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BBC Radio 4
Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics
Mar 25, 2019
Will China and America go to war?
Will the growing competition between China and the United States inevitably lead to military conflict? One leading American academic created huge attention when in 2017 he posed the idea of what he called a "Thucydides Trap". Drawing on the work of the ancient Greek historian, he warned that when a rising power (Sparta) threatens an existing power (Athens) they are destined to clash, unless both countries change their policies. He warned that the same pattern could play out with the US and China. Since then, President Trump has engaged in combative rhetoric over trade, while China has fast been modernising and upgrading its military. BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus considers whether Washington and Beijing can escape the trap - or whether the growing economic, strategic and technological rivalry between the two nations will inevitably end in conflict. Producer: Stuart Hughes
Mar 18, 2019
Are we heading for a mass extinction?
Will human actions result in the demise of huge numbers of other species - in a mass die-off, comparable to the end of the era of the dinosaurs? Neal Razzell assesses the evidence that species are dying off at a rapid rate, and looks at some of the surprising things we might do to slow or reverse this process. Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton and Josephine Casserley
Mar 11, 2019
Will humans survive the century?
What is the chance of the human race surviving the 21st century? There are many dangers – climate change for example, or nuclear war, or a pandemic, or planet Earth being hit by a giant asteroid. Around the world a number of research centres have sprung up to investigate and mitigate what’s called existential risk. How precarious is our civilisation and can we all play a part in preventing global catastrophe? Contributors Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute. Phil Torres, Future of Life Institute. Karin Kuhlemann, University College London. Simon Beard, Centre for Existential Risk. Lalitha Sundaram, Centre for Existential Risk. Seth Baum, Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. Film clip: Armageddon, Touchstone Pictures (1998), Directed by Michael Bay. Presented (cheerily) by David Edmonds. Producer: Diane Richardson
Mar 4, 2019
Is there a better way to heal political divides - through panels of ordinary citizens? Sonia Sodha asks if the idea of citizens' assemblies, which have been used around the world to come up with solutions to polarising issues. Proponents argue that they avoid the risks of knee-jerk legislation, winner-takes-all outcomes or the pull of populism. Many in the Republic of Ireland believe that deliberative democracy was crucial in reforming the law on abortion without causing major political upheavals. Could this method still come up with a better way forward for Brexit? Producer: Maire Devine
Feb 25, 2019
Voters and politicians in Britain claim to be perplexed that economic and political relations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland seem to be decisive in determining the course of Brexit. They shouldn't be, argues Edward Stourton. A glance at the history of the countries' relations since the Acts of Union in 1800 helps to explain the situation. From at least the time of Catholic Emancipation in the 1820s, political, social, cultural and economic issues on the island of Ireland have influenced and shaped politics at Westminster. The point is that MPs and others at Westminster have seldom appreciated this and therefore underestimated the power of that history to affect the course of a contemporary issue like Brexit. Looking at a range of issues from Emancipation, the 1840s Irish potato famine, Catholic clerical education, the campaign for Home Rule leading ultimately to the War of Irish Independence in the twentieth century and the bloody establishment of the Irish Free State, as well as the Troubles and the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Edward Stourton explores the way in which issues in Ireland have determined British politics. He considers especially what lessons these episodes may hold for today's Westminster politicians and how to imagine the Anglo-Irish future. Among those taking part: Lady Antonia Fraser, Professor The Lord Bew, Professor Sir David Cannadine, Professor Roy Foster, Professor Marianne Elliott, Fintan O'Toole and Declan Kiberd. Producer: Simon Coates
Feb 18, 2019
Does a falling currency help or harm the economy? It's an urgent question for the UK, as the pound fell sharply in value against other major currencies after the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union in June 2016. Market commentators put this down to foreign investors becoming intensely gloomy about the prospects for the UK economy after Brexit. Others have welcomed the drop, saying it will benefit British exporters. But is it really such a simple, binary question? Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies investigates. Contributors: Richard Barkey, CEO, Imparta Roger Bootle, chairman, Capital Economics Meredith Crowley, reader in international economics at Cambridge university Jane Foley, head of foreign exchange strategy, Rabobank Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist, Conferdation of British Industry Mick Ventola, managing director, Ventola Projects Producer: Neil Koenig
Feb 11, 2019
Are we living in a ‘golden age’ of political conspiracy theories and what does belief in them tell us about voters and politicians? James Tilley, a professor of politics at the University of Oxford, talks to historians, psychologists and political scientists to ask why conspiracy theories are so common and who are the people spreading them. Why are so many of us drawn to the notion of shadowy forces controlling political events? And are conspiracy theories, in which things always happen for a reason and where good is always pitted against evil, simply an exaggerated version of our everyday political thinking? Producer: Bob Howard
Feb 4, 2019
Do children of married parents do better?
Does being born to non-married parents affect a child's prospects? It is a question that is notoriously hard to answer. BBC Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys investigates research from Princeton's landmark Fragile Families study, which has gathered data from 5,000 births over the last 18 years. She speaks to principal investigator Professor Sara McLanahan to find out how much we know about the differing outcomes of children raised by married, cohabiting or single parents. Branwen asks how applicable the results of the study are to British society, where very soon, a minority of births will be to married parents. Professor Emla Fitzsimons has been following the lives of 19,000 children, born across the UK in 2000-01. She reveals what the project, know as The Millennium Cohort Study has found. Producer: Diane Richardson
Jan 28, 2019
The War for Normal
We live in a world where everyone is trying to manipulate everyone else, where social media has opened up the floodgates for a mayhem of influence. And the one thing all the new propagandists have in common is the idea that to really get to someone you have to not just spin or nudge or persuade them, but transform the way they think about the world, the language and concepts they have to make sense of things. Peter Pomerantsev, author of an acclaimed book on the media in Putin's Russia, examines where this strategy began, how it is being exploited, the people caught in the middle, and the researchers trying to combat it. Because it is no longer just at the ‘fringes’ where this is happening – it is now a part of mainstream political life. Producer: Ant Adeane
Jan 14, 2019
From a US president who is turning the world upside down – with a relish for dismantling global agreements – the message is clear: it’s America first. But where does that leave old European allies? Few expect the transatlantic relationship to go back to where it was before Trump. Europe, says Angela Merkel, now has to shape its own destiny. James Naughtie explores the uncertain future for America's friends. Producer: Kate Collins
Jan 8, 2019
The Trumped Republicans
Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation’s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind? Christie, a long-time Republican who has served in the West Wing under George W Bush, takes us on a journey behind the scenes to meet Trump’s inner circle - including figures like Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications, and to influential conservative broadcaster Sean Hannity. He talks to the supporters and the sceptics alike who watch in amazement as one of the most controversial presidents of all time takes his country and his party by storm. Producer: Kirsty Mackenzie
Nov 19, 2018
The Next Crash
What could cause a future financial crash? Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, talks to some of the world's leading economists about whether we have learnt lessons from the 2008 financial crash and whether countries are now better prepared to meet the next crisis. Or are we condemned to another economic meltdown, perhaps even more severe, which would provide new fuel to the fires of populism? A decade ago, the world was taken by surprise. Will it be again? Featuring contributions from the IMF's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, Lord Nick Stern, Professor Peter Piot, Pascal Lamy and Jeffrey Sachs. Producer: Ben Carter
Nov 12, 2018
The Replication Crisis
Many key findings in psychological research are under question, as the results of some of its most well-known experiments – such as the marshmallow effect, ego depletion, stereotype threat and the Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment – have proved difficult or impossible to reproduce. This has affected numerous careers and led to bitter recriminations in the academic community. So can the insights of academic psychology be trusted and what are the implications for us all? Featuring contributions from John Bargh, Susan Fiske, John Ioannidis, Brian Nosek, Stephen Reicher, Diederik Stapel and Simine Vazire. Presenter David Edmonds Producer Ben Cooper
Nov 5, 2018
How to kill a democracy
How many democracies around the world are gradually being dismantled. Democracies today are less and less likely to be overthrown in violent coups. Today’s methods of establishing one party rule are much more subtle and insidious. Political scientist Professor Matt Qvortrup explores how the modern authoritarian leader takes control of his or her country. High on their list will be subtly manipulating elections to win with a comfortable but credible majority: appointing their own supporters to the judiciary whilst watering down their powers: silencing critics in the press while garnering positive coverage from their media supporters: punishing opponents by denying them employment while rewarding lackeys with key positions. And using technology to help rig votes and spread propaganda. Matt traces these methods back to Roman times while looking at their contemporary relevance in countries as diverse as Kenya, Poland, Hungary, and Venezuela. Producer: Bob Howard
Nov 2, 2018
Do Assassinations Work?
Poison, exploding cigars and shooting down planes: tales of espionage and statesmanship. Government-ordered assassinations may seem the stuff of spy novels and movie scripts, but they seem to have entered the realm of reality of late. Why do states choose to take this action and can we measure their success? Edward Stourton assesses how various governments -including Israel, Russia, America and the UK - have dabbled in assassination and asks whether it works as a tool of foreign policy. Producer: Phoebe Keane
Oct 22, 2018
The Pupil Premium
How do you increase the attainment of disadvantaged children? Poorer children consistently perform worse at school by not reaching higher grades at age 16, compared to richer children. There is broad agreement, across party lines that they require more money to help them succeed and reduce inequality. Therefore, schools in England adopted the pupil premium policy in 2011 where extra funding was attached to each child in receipt of free school meals. Professor of Education at University College London, Dr Rebecca Allen assesses how well the policy has been working. Producer: Nina Robinson Editor: Hugh Levinson
Oct 15, 2018
Northern Ireland - Where Next?
Could Northern Ireland soon face a huge decision - whether to leave the UK? Andrea Catherwood returns to where she grew up to discover why the biggest question of all is looming beyond Brexit. Demography may soon leave Catholics as the largest population group. And Brexit debate over new border controls in Ireland has challenged the uneasy compromise of the Good Friday Agreement. So how could a vote on creating a united Ireland come about? How would different traditions and generations decide what to do? And away from political debate, how do the people of Northern Ireland feel about the prospect of such a sensitive and fundamental choice? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson
Oct 8, 2018
Operation Tory Black Vote
Can the Conservatives ever win over non-white support? Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are as diverse in their values and beliefs as the rest of the population, yet there is a history of ethnic minority voters overwhelmingly supporting the Labour Party. Recent studies show that in 2017 three quarters continued to back Labour, while under a fifth voted for the Conservatives. Long-term this is a headache for the Tories, as the proportion of the population who identify as BAME is expected to double to between 20 and 30 percent over the next thirty years. Professor Rosie Campbell of King's College London looks at the potential political impact of ethnic minority voters and what the parties can do to do win the trust and votes of communities which may in future, decide who governs Britain. Producer: Adam Bowen
Oct 1, 2018
How power moved from West to East after the 2008 financial crisis. Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, explores how Asian nations, especially China, demonstrated resilience, and rebounded quickly from the crisis. This led to a profound loss of faith in the ability of the Western leaders to manage the global economy effectively. Interviewees: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister, Nigeria Nick Stern, former chief economist, The World Bank Jeffrey Sachs, professor Columbia University Kumi Naidoo, secretary general, Amnesty International Willem Buiter, former Chief Economist, Citibank Martin Wolf, the chief economics commentator, The Financial Times Kishore Mahbubani, professor, University of Singapore Justin Lin, professor, Beijing University Adam Tooze, author of 'Crashed' Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton
Aug 31, 2018
The Truth About Britain's Beggars
Former homeless drug-addict Mark Johnson explores our relationship with street beggars
Jul 23, 2018
As well as marking the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service, this year marks a similar milestone in adult social care. But whereas our notions of fairness in treating those who fall ill are simple and straightforward - free to those who require care at the point of delivery in the NHS - with social care it is different: means testing remains the device by which assistance with care is decided. When it comes to helping the aged and the infirm, then, we struggle with decidedly different ideas of fairness - and have done so since the advent of National Assistance - the forerunner of today's social care - in 1948. What should the individual contribute and how much should the state provide? What ideas of fairness properly apply in providing social care? And how can agreement on them be reached? Paul Johnson - the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the respected economic research body - asks why politicians should find it so difficult to agree on simple ideas of equit…
Jul 16, 2018
Trump and Trade
In 2016, during the American presidential election campaign, Edward Stourton travelled to the rustbelt of the United States to report on the new political power of Protectionism. Now, as Donald Trump seems poised for a trade war on two fronts - with China and Europe - he asks how far the American president will go to put "America First". Producer Smita Patel Editor Hugh Levinson.
Jul 9, 2018
British Politics: A Russian View
Peter Pomerantsev asks why new techniques in political campaigning have succeeded and what the consequences are for society. He has a different view to most from his past career working inside the TV industry in Moscow. The future arrived first in Russia. The defeat of communism gave rise to political technologists who flourished in the vacuum left by the Cold War, developing a supple approach to ideology that made them the new masters of politics. Something of this post-ideological spirit is visible in Britain. Centrism no longer seems viable. Globalisation is increasingly resented. Ours is an uncertain political landscape in which commentators and polls habitually fail to predict what is to come. There was a time when if you lived in a certain place, in a certain type of home, then you were likely to vote a certain way. But that is no longer the case. Instead, political strategists imagine you through your data. The campaigns that succeed are the ones that hook in as many groups as…
Jul 2, 2018
The Middle East Conundrum
Edward Stourton asks if there any chance of a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tensions have been rising following the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the deadly clashes at the border between Israel and Gaza. The peace process - if it exists at all - seems to be in deep freeze. The idea of a two-state solution does not appear to be getting any closer, while a one-state solution would effectively mark the end of a Jewish state. Does Israel have a long-term strategy? Producer: Ben Cooper.
Jun 25, 2018
Can Technology Be Stopped?
Can the Big Four - Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple - be reined in and forced to play by the rules society sets, rather than imposing their own standards on society? It seems like news breaks every few weeks that reveal how the technology on which we increasingly depend - smartphones, search engines, social media - is not as passive as many of us thought. Big data, fake news, extremism, Russian trolls: with little or no regulatory supervision, the big tech companies are changing the world and disrupting our lives. Yet governments seem to have little power to respond. The tech giants look too big, too international and too hard to pin down. So is it time to disrupt the disrupters? Journalist and writer Jamie Bartlett asks how we can regulate big tech. He meets the regulators who are daring to reclaim power, and assesses the challenges involved in imposing rules on an industry which is deeply complicated, ever changing and supranational. Do governments have the resources to reassert s…
Jun 18, 2018
Death Is a Bore
Most of us are resigned to the fact that we won't escape death in the end. But there are people who have dedicated their entire lives to conquering death. This relatively new movement of 'transhumanists' believes that science is close to finding a cure for aging and that immortality may be just around the corner. Chloe Hadjimatheou asks whether it's really possible to live forever and whether it's actually desirable.
Jun 11, 2018
New infrastructure such as major transport projects promises huge benefits. London and the South East are currently looking forward to Crossrail, the start of HS2 and much more besides. But how does all this look from further north? Chris Bowlby heads for his home territory in the north east of England to discover a region full of new ideas about future connections, but worried that current national plans risk leaving it lagging behind. And what, he asks, might this mean for the whole country's future? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Jun 4, 2018
How can we be sure that the technology we are creating is going to do the right thing? Machines are merging into our lives in ever more intimate ways. They interact with our children and assist with medical decisions. Cars are learning to drive themselves; data on our likes and dislikes roam through the internet. Sandra Kanthal asks if we already in danger of being governed by algorithmic overlords.
May 28, 2018
#metoo, moi non plus
Do French women really think differently about sexual harassment - and if so, does feminism have national borders? Catherine Deneuve was one of 100 prominent women who signed an open letter to Le Monde critiquing the #metoo movement. "We believe that the freedom to say yes to a sexual proposition cannot exist without the freedom to pester," they wrote. Have the French mastered a more sophisticated approach to relations between men and women, based around seduction - or is this a myth that sustains male power? Parisian journalist Catherine Guilyardi investigates. Producer: Estelle Doyle Contributors: Claude Habib - historian and author of "Galanterie francaise" Elaine Sciolino - ex New York Times Paris bureau chief and author of "La Seduction" and "Rue des Martyrs" Eric Fassin - professor of sociology, Paris-8 University Sylvie Kauffman - editorial director and columnist at Le Monde Sandra Muller - journalist and founder of #balancetonporc Cécile Fara and Julie Marangé - f…
Apr 24, 2018
Too Young to Veil?
This year, St. Stephen's primary school in east London found itself at the centre of an incendiary and increasingly far-reaching debate that is rocking not only Muslim communities and campaigners across the UK but also penetrates the very heart of the country's education system. An attempt to ban girls under the age of 8 from wearing the hijab to school resulted in a major backlash from the local community and beyond. Over 19, 000 people signed a petition to reverse the ban, a national campaign group got involved and social media was awash with outrage, some comparing the head teacher to 'Hitler' and branding her a 'paedophile'. The ban was swiftly reversed. What is really at the root of the outrage given that Islam does not require children to cover their heads? And what is motivating the trend for younger girls -some as young as four- to wear the hijab, when previous generations would not have veiled so young? Female Muslim campaigners have warned that it should be fiercely reject…
Mar 26, 2018
The End of Arms Control?
Existing arms control treaties are under threat - at the same time that new types of weapon emerge, with nothing to regulate them. There is a growing crisis in the arms control regimes inherited from the Cold War era, which threatens to undermine existing agreements. At the same time, new technologies are emerging like drones, cyberwar, biotech and hypersonic weapons, which are not covered by existing rules. BBC Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus asks if a new era of chaos beckon or might the whole idea of arms control and disarmament be revived? Producer: Matthew Woodcraft.
Mar 19, 2018
Screens and Teens
Do we need to "do something" about the effects of smartphones on teenage children? The backlash against the omnipresent devices has begun. Parents on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly worried that smartphones pose a threat to the current generation of teenagers, who have grown up with a phone almost constantly in their hand. Smartphones make our teenagers anxious, tired narcissists who lack empathy and the ability to communicate properly in person. Or so the story goes. David Baker examines the evidence behind the case against smartphones. He hears from the academics calling for action to curb the addictive pull of the screen and from a former Silicon Valley developer who won't let his children have a smartphone. But he also speaks to experts convinced this is just another moral panic about technology's effect on the young. Could there be a danger in blaming smartphones for the rise in teenage anxiety, especially among girls, at the expense of finding the real cause? What,…
Mar 12, 2018
What Are Universities For?
Almost half of the UK's school leavers are now going to university. But the university sector is under more scrutiny than ever before. Sonia Sodha argues that it's time to take a profound look at what universities are really for. Should we be spending vast amounts of public money educating young people at this level if the main purpose is to get ahead of the next person? Are vast numbers of students being failed by a one-size-fits-all system that prizes academic achievement above all else? Why has Apple - and several other companies in Silicon Valley - decided that training young people's imagination and sense of civic culture is of paramount importance? What are the long-term risks to society if universities increasingly become little more than training grounds for the workplace? Producer: Adele Armstrong.
Mar 5, 2018
Town v Gown: New Tribes in Brexit Britain
In the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, a stark division emerged: those with university degrees were far more likely to vote remain than those with few educational qualifications. And Britain is not the only country where such a gap exists - in the recent American presidential election, far more graduates voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Edward Stourton investigates the impact of this faultline on voting and politics, and asks how policy makers and wider society should respond. Producer: Neil Koenig.
Feb 26, 2018
The Dictator's Survival Guide
When Robert Mugabe was deposed last year, he had ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades. How do dictators and authoritarians stay in power? James Tilley, a professor of politics at Oxford University, finds out what's in the dictators' survival guide. How do they control ordinary people and stop revolts? How do they stop rivals from taking over? And how do they manipulate apparently democratic procedures like elections to secure their rule? Producer: Bob Howard.
Feb 19, 2018
Electricity is crucial to modern life - and in the digital or electric vehicle age, that dependence is going to grow even more. But will we all get the power we need? Chris Bowlby discovers what life is like when power suddenly fails, and how a revolution in the way we generate electricity is posing huge political questions. This could give everyone secure, cheap power - or leave society divided between those with a bright future, and those left increasingly in the dark. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Feb 12, 2018
A Very British Battle
The latest round in the fight over the future of the UK armed forces is raging in the corridors of Whitehall. As politicians and military top brass argue about money, wider questions about what we want the Army, Navy and RAF to do once again top the defence agenda. Caroline Wyatt spent many years covering defence for the BBC and has heard warnings from retired generals about chronic under-funding many times. But with army numbers already down to a level not seen since before the Napoleonic Wars, big projects like the F-35 fighter jets in trouble, and a £2bn a year black hole in the defence budget, further salami slicing seems untenable. How then to prioritise which capabilities the UK must maintain and improve? The UK faces an intensified threat from Russia, 'hybrid' warfare where cyber attacks and political destabilisation are used alongside military force, and advances in missile technology. Post Brexit, the UK's strategic position both globally and within the European defence spa…
Feb 5, 2018
The Illiberal Democrats
Poland and Hungary appear to be on paths to what the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called "illiberal democracy". What does this mean for the European Union? Naomi Grimley hears how in Hungary a respected newspaper was shut down overnight after criticising government officials. A liberal university is fighting for its survival. In Poland, a popular singer was disinvited from a festival after speaking out against the proposed outlawing of abortion. Laws have been passed which give politicians more control over the appointment of judges. Both countries are in trouble with the European Commission. And yet, the view from Warsaw and Budapest is that their governments were democratically elected, and that they are enacting the will of their peoples - a will that may not be the same as that of Brussels, but has a popular mandate. In Hungary, Naomi is told that the country simply wants to keep its Christian identity. In Poland, the argument is that the changes of the court systems are s…
Jan 29, 2018
Why Are Even Women Biased Against Women?
Women are sexist too. Even avowed feminists are found to be unconsciously biased against women when they take 'implicit association' tests. Mary Ann Sieghart asks where these discriminatory attitudes come from and what we can do about them. Evidence for women's own sexist biases abounds. In one example, female science professors rated the application materials of ostensibly male applicants for a lab position considerably higher than the identical documentation of ostensibly female candidates, in an experiment with fictitious applicants where only the names were changed. The reasons for the pervasive bias seem to lie in the unconscious, and in how concepts, memories and associations are formed and reinforced from early childhood. We learn from our environment.. The more we are exposed to sexist attitudes, the more we become hardwired to be sexist - without realising it. So what to do? Does unconscious bias training help? Or could it make our implicit biases worse? A good start might be…
Dec 1, 2017
The Invisible Hand of Donald Trump
Donald Trump's surprise elevation to the office of president last November stunned the world and electrified the financial markets. Promises to cut red tape, bring huge infrastructure projects to life, and sort out the byzantine American tax system propelled Wall Street to record highs. It's called the Trump Bump. Yet Trump's protectionist rhetoric simultaneously created fears of a global trade war. Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times, reflects on what Trump has accomplished in economic terms in the year since the election heard round the world. Financial systems are recovering from the calamities of the last decade, but that improvement was well under way before Trump took the helm of the world's largest economy. New proposals from the administration are stalled for lack of clarity, infirmity of purpose and political disarray. This doesn't mean that President Trump's decisions on everything from trade tariffs to the Federal Reserve will not send ripples aro…
Nov 20, 2017
Offence, Power and Progress
In 2017 it's easier than ever to express offence. The angry face icon on Facebook, a sarcasm-loaded tweet or a (comparatively) old-fashioned blog post allow us to highlight the insensitivities of others and how they make us feel - in a matter of moments. Increasingly, offence has consequences: people are told what they can and cannot wear, comedy characters are put to bed. Earlier this year, a white artist was condemned for her depiction of the body of a murdered black teenager. Those who were offended demanded that the painting be destroyed because 'white creative freedoms have been founded on the constraint of others'. It's easy to scoff. Detractors refer to those asking for a new level of cultural sensitivity as "snowflakes" and insist the offence they feel is self-indulgent. But history teaches that fringe discussions often graduate to mainstream norms. So are these new idealists setting a fresh standard for cultural sensitivity? A standard that society will eventually come to obse…
Nov 13, 2017
These days when we talk about politicians we are more likely to discuss whether they are authentic than whether they are great orators or statesmen or women. Few of us take the time to listen to a speech or read a manifesto and when we judge politicians we more often focus on whether they seem sincere, warm or passionately committed to a cause rather than weighing up their policy programmes . We're turned off by spin and cynical about many politicians' motivations and we seek reassurance that they can really be trusted. Professor Rosie Campbell asks how we can make judgements about a politician's authenticity. Are politicians more trustworthy if they stick to their principles without compromise? Or is authenticity about revealing our true character, warts and all? And what is better for democracy? Authentic leaders who are straight talking and stick rigidly to their ideals or leaders who are willing to negotiate behind the scenes? Producer: Ben Carter.
Nov 6, 2017
Professor James Tilley finds out what we can learn about politics from the power struggles within chimpanzee groups and how our evolutionary past may affect the political decisions that we make today. Interviewing primatologists, evolutionary psychologists and political scientists, he explores the parallels between our political world and that of other primates. These include the way politicians form coalitions, how people choose leaders, loyalties to parties and even how, and when, we go to war. These similarities to other primates reflect our evolutionary heritage and the way in which stone-age human groups settled disputes internally and externally. Producer: Bob Howard.
Nov 1, 2017
When does flirting go too far? In a changing world, can we agree on what is acceptable behaviour? Sexual harassment is much in the news, new laws and codes are in place. Legal definitions are one thing, but real life situations can be a lot messier and more uncertain. Mixing expert analysis of the issues with discussion of everyday scenarios, Jo Fidgen asks: what are the new rules of relationships? Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Oct 30, 2017
Edward Stourton asks how the European Union might change after Britain leaves. "The wind is back in Europe's sails", according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In September, in his annual address to the European Parliament, he set out a bold dream for the future. Soon afterwards it was echoed by another, this time from French President Emmanuel Macron who declared that "the only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic". Amongst the proposals that the two leaders put forward were a European budget run by a European finance minister, an enlargement of the Schengen passport-free travel zone, and much closer collaboration on tax, defence, and a host of other issues. But at present, the European project faces huge challenges. Britain is about to leave the EU, whilst Catalonia's bid for independence is causing turmoil in Spain. In the face of such developments, how realistic are the grand visions that Europe's…
Oct 23, 2017
Parliament - A Building Catastrophe?
What does the dangerous state of the Houses of Parliament tell us about our politics? There are increasing fears of a catastrophic fire, asbestos leak or major systems failure in the famed buildings. But after years of warnings, MPs and Lords are still struggling to decide what to do. Some say Parliament must remain active in the buildings while urgent work is done. Others say they must be vacated for renovation - and that this is an opportunity for a complete rethink of how our parliamentary democracy functions. Chris Bowlby visits the buildings' secret and hazardous corners and talks to key figures in the debate, discovering a story of costly but revealing political paralysis Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Oct 16, 2017
Can We Teach Robots Ethics?
From driverless cars to "carebots", machines are entering the realm of right and wrong. Should an autonomous vehicle prioritise the lives of its passengers over pedestrians? Should a robot caring for an elderly woman respect her right to life ahead of her right to make her own decisions? And who gets to decide? The challenges facing artificial intelligence are not just technical, but moral - and raise hard questions about what it means to be human. Presenter: David Edmonds Producer: Simon Maybin.
Oct 9, 2017
What would war with North Korea look like?
What could spark a major conflict on the world's most sensitive front line, and just how devastating would it be? Alarm about North Korea has spiked. It claims to have successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit Alaska. Some experts estimate that North Korea is now 18 to 36 months away from launching a missile able to reach Los Angeles. President Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" the country, in an exchange of increasingly belligerent messages from both sides. Neal Razzell takes a look at the two sides' war plans and asks: what would war with North Korea look like? Producer: Sarah Shebbeare.
Oct 2, 2017
The Fintech Revolution
Will technology radically reshape the highly profitable world of finance? Technology can revolutionise industries, making goods and services cheaper and more accessible. Television is going the same way with online services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime providing thousands of movies and boxsets. From the point of view of the consumer the picture is the same - we tend to have more choice and pay less money. Profits get squeezed. Yet there's one service we buy that seems to be a glaring exception - finance. Philip Coggan of The Economist asks whether the rapidly growing financial technology sector is about to change all that, creating a future that's much less comfortable for City fat cats, but better for everyone else. Producer: Ben Carter (Photo: Tech Globe on hand. Credit: Shutterstock).
Aug 30, 2017
'The Fix' brings together twelve of the country's bright young minds and gives them just one day to solve an intractable problem. This week we have asked our teams to come up with ways to stop criminals re-offending when they leave prison. The day is introduced by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and the teams will be led through the day by Cat Drew, Director at design consultancy Uscreates. Can the teams do enough to impress our judges, Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund and David Willetts, former minister and Executive Chairman of the Resolution Foundation, or will they fall short?
Aug 23, 2017
The Fix: Childhood Obesity
The teams have just one day to find solutions to the problem of childhood obesity
Aug 17, 2017
The Fix: Setting Up Home
In the first of a new series, twelve of the country's brightest young minds gather to solve difficult social problems. This week - how do we improve access to affordable housing? Using policy planning techniques used by governments around the world, three teams are given free reign to think the unthinkable. They then present their ideas to two judges, who'll interrogate them and pick the best. Presented by Matthew Taylor and facilitated by Cat Drew of Uscreates Team One: Oliver Sweet - runs an ethnographic research department at Ipsos MORI. Margot Lombaert - creative director of Margot Lombaert Studio, an independent graphic design practice. Ethan Howard - RSA award winner. Jack Minchella - research and design associate at the Innovation Unit and the founder of the urban research collective In-Between Economies based in Denmark. Team Two: Solveiga Pakštaitė - industrial designer specialising in user-centred design. Gemma Hitchens - Account Director at Signal Noise, which specialises…
Jul 26, 2017
David Anderson examines the government's controversial counter-terrorism strategy Prevent
Jul 24, 2017
Minimum Wage: Too Much of a Good Thing?
Has the initial success of the minimum wage meant politicians have extended the policy to damaging levels? All the major political parties agree: the measure has been a success, and in the 2017 election all promised substantial rises in the rate by 2020. The Conservatives are aiming for a £9 national living wage by the end of the decade, and not to be outdone, Labour promised £10 for all but the under-18s. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, asks why left and right have both adopted this once controversial policy. And could the current bidding war of big increases undermine the positive effects it has had over its eighteen-year history? Producer: Kate Lamble.
Jul 17, 2017
Yascha Mounk on democracy at risk
An extended interview with the political theorist who argues that liberal democracy is in grave danger. Ngaire Woods, dean of the Blavatnik School at Oxford, speaks to Harvard scholar Yascha Mounk. He says that across a wide sample of countries in North America and Western Europe, citizens of mature democracies have become markedly less satisfied with their form of government and surprisingly open to nondemocratic alternatives. "A serious democratic disconnect has emerged. If it widens even further, it may begin to challenge the stability of seemingly consolidated democracies." Producer: Jim Frank (Image: Yascha Mounk. Credit: Steffen Jaenicke).
Jul 10, 2017
Is work too easy?
Michael Blastland asks if it's desk-bound work, rather than over-eating, which is making more and more of us obese. He hears about remarkable research which, despite received wisdom, suggests that people in the UK have reduced their calorie intake. However, they are expending far less physical energy, particularly because of new patterns of work which now require little if any bodily exertion. Michael examines projects to change individual behaviour such as corporate wellness programmes and altering office layouts - but finds it's going to be a tough sell. Interviewees: Dr Melanie Lührmann, Senior Lecturer, Royal Holloway Professor Alexi Marmot, architect, UCL Professor Andre Spicer, Cass Business School Professor Mike Kelly, School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge University Producers: Estelle Doyle, Phoebe Keane and Smita Patel.
Jul 3, 2017
Constitutions at Work
Constitutions put controls on the people who run countries - but how are they created and how well do they work? In ordinary times constitutional debate often seems an abstract business without very much relevance to the way we live our lives. But political turmoil can operate like an X-ray, lighting up the bones around which the body politic is formed. Drawing on recent political events, Edward Stourton explores the effectiveness of the constitutions of the United Kingdom, the USA and France and asks are they doing what they were meant to do? CONTRIBUTORS Lord Peter Hennessy, Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary University of London Alison Young, Professor of Public Law, University of Oxford Professor Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School Sophie Boyron, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham Law School David S Bell, Professor of French Government and Politics, University of Leeds Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith.
Jun 26, 2017
Who Speaks for the Workers?
Union membership is in decline whilst structural changes in the economy - including the rise of the so-called gig economy - are putting downward pressure on wages, and creating fertile conditions for exploitation by unscrupulous employers. So who is going to ensure that workers get a fair deal? Sonia Sodha, chief leader writer for the Observer, investigates. Producer: David Edmonds.
Jun 23, 2017
Brexit: A Tale of Two Cities
A year on from the Brexit referendum, Anand Menon contrasts Wakefield, which voted leave, with Oxford which voted remain, to find out how they feel now.
Jun 19, 2017
What went wrong with Brazil?
During Brazil's boom years the country's rising economy created a new middle class of gigantic proportions - tens of millions escaping from poverty. Brazil felt confident and even rich enough to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. But then the economy turned. In the last two years the country has endured its worst recession on record. Rio de Janeiro - the city that hosted the Olympics - is bankrupt. Many communities don't have functioning schools or clinics. Corruption is endemic. David Baker, a regular visitor to Brazil, travels to Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo to find out where it went all wrong for the country, what's holding it back from being a great economic power and what the wider lessons are for developing countries across the world. Producer: Alex Lewis.
Jun 12, 2017
Germany - Anxious Giant
With angst over European security growing, why is Germany such a reluctant military power? Chris Bowlby discovers how German pacifism has grown since World War Two. The German army, the Bundeswehr, is meant to be a model citizen's army but is poorly funded and treated with suspicion by the population. Some now say the world of Trump, Putin and Brexit demands major change in German thinking, much more spending and Bundeswehr deployments abroad. But most Germans disagree. Could Germany in fact be trying historically something really new - becoming a major power without fighting wars? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Jun 5, 2017
Do we unconsciously harbour racist and sexist attitudes? Far fewer people are explicitly racist than a couple of decades ago. They won't express or admit to racist sentiments. But what happens beneath the conscious level? In recent years there has been an explosion in research into what's called implicit bias. David Edmonds discovers that big business is taking the idea very seriously. He asks: does it stand up to scrutiny? Producer: Ben Carter.
May 30, 2017
Aid: Something to Boast About?
Why is the UK such a generous global aid donor and should it be? The coalition government legislated to ensure Britain spent 0.7% of its national income on international development and it is now one of the very few countries to meet this United Nations target for such spending. With financial pressures on public services at home remaining acute, Jo Coburn asks why most politicians still support the idea, despite public criticism and press campaigns about wasted money. In her quest, she investigates the history of the UK's support for overseas aid and examines what makes so many politicians willing to risk voters' displeasure on the issue. Producer: Simon Coates.
Apr 11, 2017
Adventures in Social Mobility
What are the unwritten rules you must learn to get a top job? Hashi Mohamed came to the UK aged nine, as an unaccompanied child refugee, with hardly any English. His academic achievements at school were far from stellar. Yet he now works as a barrister - and so is a member of one of the elite professions that have traditionally been very difficult for people from poor backgrounds to crack. So how did he do it? In a personal take on social mobility, we meet his mentors. These are the people who gave him a few lucky breaks and showed him how to fit in to a world he could barely imagine. But how many people can follow that path? And why should they have to? Producer: Rosamund Jones (Image: Hashi Mohamed. Credit: Shaista Chishty).
Mar 20, 2017
Detoxifying France's National Front
Has Front National leader Marine Le Pen really detoxified the party founded by her father 40 years ago? Is it a right-wing protest movement or a party seriously preparing for power? Anand Menon, professor of European politics at Kings College London, analyses the process the French call Dédiabolisation. Le Pen has banished the name of the party and even her own surname from election posters and leaflets. Her party is making inroads into socialist and communist fiefdoms in northern and eastern France. Combining nationalism with a message designed to reach out to the left, she speaks up loudly for the have-nots, people who live in the land she calls "the forgotten France." She targets trade unionists, teachers and gay voters. But widening the party's appeal leads to a tricky balancing act. Can Marine Le Pen manage the process of political exorcism without alienating die-hard supporters? Producer: Lucy Ash.
Mar 13, 2017
Holland's Challenge to Tolerance
Why is liberal, tolerant Netherlands home to one of Europe's most successful anti-immigration, anti-Islamic parties? Geert Wilders' radical right-wing Party For Freedom (PVV) - which wants to close mosques and ban the Qur'an - will be one of the biggest in the new Dutch parliament. So have its voters - whom Wilders once described as "Henk and Ingrid", Holland's Mr and Mrs Average - turned their backs on centuries-old Dutch values? Or do they just understand those values in a different way? Unlike some far-right parties elsewhere in Europe, the PVV has no neo-Nazi roots. It's loud in its support for gay and women's rights. It promotes itself as a strong defender of Holland's Jewish community. Is its ideology just an opportunistic mishmash? Or does it make some sense in a Dutch context? Searching for Henk and Ingrid, Tim Whewell sets off through Dutch "flyover country" - the totally un-photogenic satellite towns and modern villages that tourists, and Holland's own elite, rarely see. H…
Mar 6, 2017
How do the SNP sell a second referendum?
Could a second referendum on Scottish independence yield a different result? In September 2014 when Scotland voted against becoming an independent country it seemed like the question had been settled for the foreseeable future. All that changed on June 23rd 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU. Just a few hours later - before she'd even been to bed - Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was already talking about the prospect of another vote on independence. Ever since she has been ramping up the rhetoric. But what would the SNP's strategy be second time around? BBC Scotland Editor Sarah Smith explores whether the SNP would dare call another vote when there seems little appetite and opinion polls have failed to move as much as Nicola Sturgeon might have expected following the Brexit vote. Sarah talks to strategists and politicians for an insight into how things might be different should a second referendum take place in the near future. She asks whether an independent Scotland w…
Feb 27, 2017
How Voters Decide: Part Two
What makes us change our mind when it comes to elections? We are all swingers now. More voters than ever before are switching party from one election to the next. Tribal loyalties are weakening. The electorate is now willing to vote for the other side. Professor Rosie Campbell from Birkbeck University finds out what prompts voters to shift from one party to another. Quentin Davies had been a Tory MP for decades when he crossed the floor of the house. He believes his views stayed the same - but the world changed around him. Journalist Janet Daley was once too left wing for the Labour Party - until Margaret Thatcher came along. Meanwhile Daryll Pitcher felt as though no party wanted his vote. Today he is a UKIP campaign manager. Does age make us become more right wing? Have the main political parties alienated their core vote? And what does this mean for democracy? Producer: Hannah Sander.
Feb 20, 2017
How Voters Decide: Part One
What does the story of the Downing Street cat reveal about the way voters decide? We are not taught how to vote. We rely on intuition, snap judgments and class prejudice. We vote for policies that clash wildly with our own views. We keep picking the same party rather than admit we were wrong in the past. Rosie Campbell, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University, sets out to become a rational voter. Class and religion have a huge impact. But our political views have become less polarised even as the parties have moved further apart. Rosie asks whether discussions of "left" and "right" have become irrelevant. In a neuropolitics lab Rosie undergoes tests to uncover her implicit biases. She learns that hope and anger make her want to vote - but blind her to the truth. Producer: Hannah Sander.
Feb 16, 2017
Analysis Extra: The Pull of Putin
Why do populist politicians across the West want warmer relations with Russia? Are they just Kremlin agents? Or are they tapping into a growing desire to find common cause with Moscow – and end East-West tension? Tim Whewell travels from Russia to America and across Europe to unravel the many different strands of pro-Moscow thinking, and offer a provocative analysis which challenges conventional thinking about the relationship between Russia and the West. Donald Trump is just one of a new breed of Western politicians who want warmer relations with Vladimir Putin. Most Western experts say that’s dangerous: an aggressive Russia is plotting to divide and weaken the West. But Trump and others seem to have tapped into a popular desire to reduce tension and discover what Moscow and the West have in common. Could Moscow now lead a “Conservative International”, promoting traditional social values and national sovereignty around the world? On the right, some see Russia as a spiritual b…
Feb 13, 2017
Is Talent a Thing?
When hiring people, is the concept of talent so ill-defined as to be useless? Entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan thinks so and explores what characteristics recruiters might want to look for instead. She argues that we need something new, as good grades and top degrees have proved no guarantee of high performance in the workplace. She talks to the recent head of HR (or "people operations") at Google, the pioneer of the concept of a "growth mindset", and the academic who found people's intelligence increased over the course of the 20th century. She also hears about other measures like "grit", "cultural fit" and how to interview people to find the candidate who is best for the job and the company, rather than the one you like. Producer: Arlene Gregorius.
Feb 6, 2017
How Not to Do It
Jacqui Smith, the former Labour home secretary, investigates why government policies fail, focusing on one of her party's most cherished reforms. Indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) were devised by David Blunkett and the Home Office to reassure voters that those convicted of serious violent and sexual offences would stay in prison until they could show by their changed behaviour that they could safely be released. But much larger numbers of offenders received the sentences than had been expected and, as the prison population rose, jails struggled to provide the facilities IPP prisoners needed to show that they had reformed. The new sentencing structure, first passed in 2003, had to be drastically changed by Labour in 2008 and finally to be repealed by the coalition four years after that. Jacqui Smith discovers the reasons why the change in sentencing was embarked upon, why its potential flaws weren't detected before its introduction and why the policy was maintained…
Jan 30, 2017
The journey of an American 'cold warrior' from nuclear deterrence to nuclear disarmament. Former US Secretary of Defence William J Perry has spent his entire seven-decade career on the nuclear brink. A brilliant mathematician, he became involved in the development of weapons-related technology in the aftermath of World War II. As an analyst working at the heart of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he thought each day could be "my last day on earth." He was undersecretary for defence under President Carter in the 1970s, and secretary for defence under President Clinton in the 1990s. He arranged the dismantling of thousands of nuclear weapons in former Soviet republics after the collapse of the USSR, used strategic diplomacy with nuclear nations to prevent escalation, and argued - unsuccessfully - against the NATO expansion that Russia continues to find so threatening. Now Secretary Perry is worried. Very worried. President Trump and President Putin are both ramping up their bellicose rhetoric.…
Jan 23, 2017
Is public affection for the NHS preventing it from becoming fit for the future? Polling suggests that despite many complaints about the public health service, it is regarded as a much-loved and uniquely British institution. That's why for decades, it has been an article of faith among politicians that closing down hospitals or major medical services is close to electoral suicide. Received wisdom is that members of the public are dogmatically attached to their local hospitals. But could our attachment be more than just dogma? And what happens when politicians and professionals believe they know what needs to change - but the public come to an altogether different answer? Amid a time of rising demand, rising costs, and changing priorities, Sonia Sodha of The Observer explores the subtle relationship between public opinion and healthcare management. Producer: Gemma Newby.
Nov 14, 2016
Brexit: What Europe Wants
How political forces in other countries will shape any future UK-EU deal. As a younger man, Anand Menon spent a care-free summer Inter-railing around Europe. Some decades later, and now a professor of European politics, he's taking to the rails again - this time with a more specific purpose. While British ministers squabble over what they want for a post-Brexit UK, less attention is paid to the other 27 countries in the negotiations. Each can veto any long-term deal between Britain and the European Union. And each, critically, has its own politics to worry about. Professor Menon visits four European countries where politicians will face their electorates next year. What forces will decide their political survival? And how will those forces shape the EU's future relationship with the UK? Producer: Simon Maybin.
Nov 7, 2016
How Did We Save the Ozone Layer?
On 30 June this year, a study was released in one of the world's top scientific journals. It explained how a group of scientists who had been measuring the amount of ozone in the stratosphere had made a startling observation: the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk. Here, they said, was the first clear evidence that the ozone layer had begun to heal. So how did this happen? Helena Merriman tells a story that involves dogged scientific endeavour, the burgeoning green movement of the 1980s and the signing of what has been described as the most successful treaty ever created. Producers: Lucy Proctor and Hannah Sander.
Oct 31, 2016
Should we place more trust in prisoners to help them change their lives? "Trust is the only thing that changes people," says Professor Alison Liebling, the director of the Prisons Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. But, asks Lucy Ash, how can we encourage trust in prisons that are overcrowded, often understaffed, and blighted by rising rates of violence? Prisoners are locked up because they broke trust, and on the wings distrust, rather than trust, is an essential survival skill. And yet Professor Liebling's latest evidence surprisingly shows that ultimately it is only staff-prisoner relationships built on trust that ensure better outcomes. "Values grow virtues", she argues. Treating prisoners with the same values as other people - dignity, respect, trust - will help them turn their lives around. Producer: Arlene Gregorius (Image: A knife with a blunted point, chained to a work surface. Credit: Rene Hut, of the Dutch Ministry of Justice).
Oct 24, 2016
The Myth of Mobs
In popular imagination, being in a crowd makes people scary and irrational. But is this true? In this edition of Analysis, David Edmonds asks social psychologists - including a leading expert on groups, Steve Reicher - about the psychology of crowds. This is far more than merely a theoretical matter. It has profound implications for how we police crowds.
Oct 17, 2016
Brexit and Northern Ireland
Is the island of Ireland where Brexit will matter most? Edward Stourton visits Londonderry, right on the Irish border, to explore what's at stake as the UK leaves the EU. Some locals fear the border across Ireland - as the EU's new external border - will harden, causing great practical and economic difficulty and even threatening the Northern Ireland peace process. Others say change the will matter far less, and that peace is now guaranteed. While people in Derry ask anxious questions, we'll hear too how policy makers in London and Dublin face a particular challenge in making Brexit work. Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Oct 10, 2016
Can the process of gentrification be controlled? It is often hailed as a sign of social and economic progress. Places which were originally poor and downtrodden are transformed into prosperous and vibrant neighbourhoods. The phenomenon applies to large swathes of London and other cities across the country. David Baker asks whether gentrifying urban areas can retain their diversity and vibrancy. Is there a danger that in the latter stages of gentrification these places become the preserve of the very wealthy, losing much of their original character in the process? What tools are available to urban planners, local and national politicians to avoid this happening? Are there any lessons to be learned from cities in Europe and North America? Is there a new model of urban development emerging or will the British obsession with owning bricks and mortar define the way places become gentrified? Producer: Peter Snowdon.
Oct 3, 2016
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, asks if the time has come for the government to break pledges made to pensioners. He charts how the average income of senior citizens has risen and is now higher than that of the rest of the population. "We are in a position we never intended," he says. "One generation has lucked out and generations coming after are not only doing much worse, but paying for the older generation." He asks whether the government can and should sustain the "triple lock" which makes the state pension rise much faster than other benefits. And he argues that the inequality between generations is now entrenching inequality within generations. Producer: Helen Grady Interviewees: Torsten Bell, the Resolution Foundation Angus Hanton, the Intergenerational Foundation Baroness Ros Altmann, former pensions minister John Kay, economist Joanne Segars, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association Baroness Onora O'Neill, philosopher Frances O'Grady, Trades Union…
Sep 26, 2016
Tearing Up the Politics Textbook
British politics has been going through a period of rapid and remarkable change. That's a headache for the politicians and for the voters. But spare a thought also for politics professors like Rosie Campbell of Birkbeck, University of London. Following the results of the 2015 election and the EU referendum, she ask whether it's time for her and her colleagues to bin their old lecture notes and start afresh. How should we understand this new landscape where old assumptions about the dominance of two mainstream class-based parties and the crucial role of a few swing seats have become outdated? And what should go in the new politics textbooks? Producer: Rob Walker.
Jul 25, 2016
How Low Can Rates Go?
Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times, examines how policymakers are testing the norms of economic life as they seek solutions to slow growth. The payment of interest goes back to the Babylonians. Today, the business of banking is based on paying savers and charging borrowers for money. Negative interest rates, paying banks for holding our funds, violates this established norm. Yet, five central banks, which together oversee a quarter of the world's economy, have opted to impose negative rates on the commercial banks that must use their services. The aim of this unconventional policy is to convince people to spend and invest rather save. The results so far have been mixed. So might central banks be running out of options to boost economic growth, nearly ten years after the start of the last financial crisis? Martin Wolf talks with economists and central bankers, past and present, about why ideas once thought utterly shocking, such as "helicopter money" and a th…
Jul 18, 2016
A Subversive History of School Reform
Change, change, change - conventional wisdom is that the classroom is the site of an endless set of reforms, a constant stream of White Papers and directives that promise 'revolution' and sudden changes in direction. Yet is the real story of school reform really one of continuity? Professor Alison Wolf of King's College London explores the post-war history of school reform in England. Speaking to former secretaries of state, historians, and teachers, she explores the forces and events that have shaped schools. She argues that real changes have been surprisingly few and that despite a great deal of fiery rhetoric, they have generally continued across party lines. And she asks if that means that governments have perhaps been listening to what parents genuinely want? Producer: Gemma Newby.
Jul 11, 2016
Money for Nothing
Should the state pay everyone a Universal Basic Income? Sonia Sodha finds out why the idea is winning support from an unlikely alliance of leftists and libertarians. Producer: Helen Grady.
Jul 4, 2016
Politico foreign correspondent Nahal Toosi examines the international record of President Obama's eight years in office and tries to discern the governing principles behind his foreign policy. The president sought to avoid costly overseas interventions - yet his critics allege that he has allowed rival powers like Russia and China to flex their muscles and threaten American interests. And he has been condemned for his signature foreign policy achievements, like rapprochements with Iran and Cuba. With interviews gathered in Europe, the Middle East and in Washington DC, Nahal examines the president's decisions to ask if there is such a thing as an "Obama Doctrine". Producer: Lucy Proctor.
Jun 27, 2016
The Charitable Impulse
Charity is big business. In the UK, over £9 billion is donated to charitable institutions each year. But fundraising can also be controversial as recent news stories about expensive electricity tariffs, elderly donors receiving incessant requests for donations and the tactics of some "chuggers" have confirmed. So studies in experimental psychology that reveal which approaches persuade people to be more generous are timely and could offer charities a neat way to raise more money. David Edmonds explores the results of this research - including findings published for the first time. He asks if, by adopting techniques already used by the marketing and advertising industries, charities could transform their fortunes - but at what cost? Producer Simon Coates.
Jun 20, 2016
Journalist Robin Aitken comes from a conservative political viewpoint to a man who has inspired mass movements on the left: Karl Marx. Robin who was a BBC reporter for 25 years thinks Marx was always in the background discourse of politics, an influence he partly feared and didn't fully understand. He takes a walk through central London in the footsteps of the great revolutionary. And in conversation with the likes of Paul Mason, Judith Orr, Marc Stears and Peter Hitchens he tries to find out what political and economic influence Marx retains today. Producer: Nina Robinson.
Jun 13, 2016
The New Young Fogeys
Young people today drink and smoke much less than previous generations. The rates of teenage pregnancy and youth crime have fallen dramatically. New Statesman editor Jason Cowley talks to experts to find out what is shaping the attitudes and choices of young people today. He grew up in Harlow in Essex during a time of particular social unrest. He returns to his former sixth-form college where he meets a group of students who are markedly more conformist and disciplined than his generation, but more anxious too. So what accounts for this change in young people's behaviour? Is it economic pressures, government policy or the fear of transgressors being shamed on social media? Will we continue to see the rise of a generation of New Young Fogeys? Producer: Katie Inman.
Jun 6, 2016
Silicon Valley Values
David Baker explores the identity and values of Silicon Valley - and what they mean for the rest of us. He talks to entrepreneurs, investors, academics and activists about how those values are permeating the world and what to do when they clash with other priorities down on the ground. Producer: Peter Snowdon.
May 30, 2016
Protectionism in the USA
Edward Stourton examines America's long history of resistance to free trade, and asks why it has again become such a potent political force. Donald Trump's most consistent policy has been opposition to free trade agreements which he sees as unfair, particularly with China. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has been equally opposed, if for different reasons, while Hillary Clinton has had to tack away from her previous support for free trade pacts. Edward looks back to debates from the 19th century to the 1990s to shed new light on these forces. And he asks whether the protectionist impulse is a natural reaction to globalisation's wrenching changes. Producer: Smita Patel.
May 23, 2016
In communities around the globe, genderqueer, gender-variant and gender-fluid people are rejecting the categories of male and female, and attempting to re-define gender identity. Linda Pressly asks if being non-binary breaks the last identity taboo, and explores the challenges it creates for the law, society and conventional concepts about the very nature of gender. Producer: Lucy Proctor (Photo: Pips Bunce, the global head of Fixed Income & Derivatives IT engineering at Credit Suisse, who identifies as gender-fluid, or gender-variant).
Apr 21, 2016
Free Speech 1 - Oxygen of Freedom
Timothy Garton Ash introduces the subject of freedom of speech and why it is more important than ever in today's internet-connected world. Professor Garton Ash sets out the arguments for why we need free speech, including for the sake of diversity, good governance and the search for truth. He argues that as smartphones and the web change our communications, we need a set of principles which govern free speech more than ever as this essential human right comes under attack. Drawing on research behind his book on the subject, he identifies three main threats. The first is what he calls the heckler's veto: if you shout loudly enough you can restrict free speech. The second is the offensiveness veto: if you cry 'I'm offended' you can restrict free speech. The third is the assassin's veto: if you say that, we will kill you. Produced by Nina Robinson
Apr 21, 2016
Free Speech 2 - I'm Offended
Timothy Garton Ash examines how free speech is being eroded in the place it should be most secure: in universities. He examines the activist practise known as 'no platforming'. It means that one group of students is being prevented from hearing someone they do want to hear, because another group of students doesn't want that voice to be heard. Feminists Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer were both 'no platformed' due to their views on transgender people. Professor Garton Ash argues that the practice goes directly against a core principle of free speech, which is that all views - even offensive ones - must be robustly challenged in well-informed debate and not censored by those who cry 'I'm offended'. Producer: Nina Robinson
Apr 21, 2016
Free Speech 3 - Respect Me, Respect My Religion
Timothy Garton Ash asks if religion is a special case where freedom of speech should be curtailed. He asks how we can reconcile belief in an absolute revealed truth with the post-Enlightenment freedom to question everything, including religious faith. He proposes that the principle we should adopt is to "respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief". Will this be enough to bridge the gap? Producer: Nina Robinson
Apr 21, 2016
Free Speech 4 - Media We Need
Timothy Garton Ash asks whether we have the media we need to really exercise our right to freedom of expression? He examines the diversity of voices across the media landscape and wonders whether the ownership structure of Britain's media industry is conducive to free speech. Are we able to understand what is happening in our government so we can exercise clear judgment on public policy? Are we being told the Truth with a capital T? With the advent of the internet, there is a plethora of ways in which we are now communicating, especially using social media networks like Facebook. But is the algorithm used for news feeds showing us only what we want to see, rather than what we need to see? Producer: Nina Robinson
Apr 21, 2016
Free Speech 5 - Big Brother is Watching
It is often said that our right to free speech is balanced by our right to privacy. Timothy Garton Ash asks how we should strike the right balance between the two. In a world where we are sharing more of our lives online than ever before, should we accept that our privacy rights are no longer as important? Producer: Nina Robinson
Apr 14, 2016
The Deobandis: Part 2
In part two of The Deobandis, the BBC's former Pakistan correspondent Owen Bennett Jones reveals a secret history of Jihadist propagation in Britain. This follows the BBC's discovery of an archive of Pakistani Jihadist publications, which report in detail the links some British Deobandi scholars have with militant organisations in Pakistan. Among the revelations are details of a lecture tour of Britain by Masood Azhar - a prominent Pakistani militant operating in Kashmir. He toured the UK in the early 1990s, spreading the word of Jihad to recruit fighters, raise funds and build links which would aid young Britons going abroad to fight Jihad decades later. The programme also explores intra-Muslim sectarianism in Britain, and discovers how some senior Deobandi leaders have links to the proscribed organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba, a militant anti-Shia political party formed in Pakistan in the 1980s. But how widespread and representative is this sympathy with militancy? The programme explor…
Apr 14, 2016
The Deobandis: Part 1
The Deobandis are virtually unknown to most British people, yet their influence is huge. As the largest Islamic group in the UK, they control over 40% of mosques and have a near monopoly on Islamic seminaries, which propagate a back-to-basics, orthodox interpretation of Islam. Founded in a town called Deoband in 19th Century India, it's a relatively new tradition within the Islamic faith, but has spread throughout the world, with the UK being a key centre. Migrants from India and Pakistan brought Deobandi Islam to the UK during the 1960s and 1970s, setting up mosques and madrassas in the mill towns of Bury and Dewsbury, from which a national network grew. The Deobandi movement is large and diverse: from the quietest and strictly non-violent missionary group the Tablighi Jamaat to the armed sectarian and jihadist groups of Pakistan. The BBC's former Pakistan correspondent Owen Bennett Jones investigates which strands of Deobandi opinion have influence in the UK, speaking to people fr…
Apr 4, 2016
The Philby Tape
How did notorious traitor Kim Philby manage to infiltrate MI6 and send its most sensitive secrets to the Soviets? Now, for the first time, we can hear his account in a once secret tape the BBC has unearthed. It is a story of documents smuggled, Cold War operations betrayed, and Philby’s ability to evade detection by simply denying everything. BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera reveals the full story.
Mar 21, 2016
Phil Tinline finds out what happens when institutions lose their memory and how they can best capture and share the lessons of the past.
Mar 14, 2016
The End of Free
Andrew Brown of The Guardian asks if the dramatic rise of ad-blocking software will undermine the commercial model behind most free news on the internet. He finds an industry in deep concern over the "Ad-blockalypse" - with these new programmes meaning that advertisers may refuse to continue to subsidise online news providers if consumers are now no longer seeing their online adverts. Can the industry persuade people to pay for what was previously available at no charge? And if not, can commercial online news services survive? Producer: Katie Inman.
Mar 7, 2016
Power to the People?
Will devolution bring back the power to England's cities and regions that they once had? And, if so, will all local authorities fare equally? Michael Robinson explores the history of local government and asks if old freedoms are now set to return under the new deal promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Producer : Rosamund Jones.
Feb 27, 2016
Labour and the Bomb
Jeremy Corbyn's opposition to the renewal of Britain's nuclear deterrent has opened up divisions within the Labour Party that run very deep. The issue will come to a head when Parliament votes on whether to replace the Trident weapons system, following a recommendation from the Government. While Labour formally reviews its position, will Corbyn be able avoid a damaging split that beset the party in the 1980s? It was a Labour government which decided to make Britain a nuclear power. "We've got to have this thing, whatever it costs. We've got to have a bloody Union Jack on top of it," declared Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary in the postwar Labour government. Ever since that decision in 1946, the question of whether to keep 'the bomb' has divided the party between those who believe it is the cornerstone of Britain's defence policy within NATO and others who have long campaigned to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Twice before in Opposition the party has opted for unilateral disarmament,…
Feb 22, 2016
Multiculturalism: Newham v Leicester
How are councils in two of the UK's most multicultural places managing diversity? Back in the 1970s, the Labour party developed a model of working with ethnic minority and faith community groups to help new immigrants to Britain settle in. Presenter Sonia Sodha, a British Asian journalist, explores how this has worked in Leicester, a city often held up as a beacon of diversity. Has it led to more integration - or less? And does a radical new approach being trialled in Newham - the most diverse place in Britain - offer any lessons? Sonia Sodha is chief leader writer of The Observer and a former Labour party aide.
Feb 15, 2016
Why does inheritance arouse such powerful emotions? Family, death and money make for gripping stories - just ask Tolstoy, Austen or Dickens - but our attitudes also reflect the way we feel about society, the state, and even ourselves. Discussions tend to dissolve into rows about levels of tax but in this programme Jo Fidgen explores the values and intuitions that underpin our strength of feeling. Producer: Joe Kent.
Feb 8, 2016
Brexit: The Irish Question
If the UK leaves the EU, what happens on the island of Ireland? Its people would be living on either side of an EU border. In this edition of Analysis, Edward Stourton explores an aspect of the Brexit debate that few elsewhere in the UK may have thought about, but which raises urgent questions. Would there be a new opportunities, with a new version of the old Anglo-Irish special relationship? Or could a divisive border and economic harm revive dangerous tensions? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Feb 1, 2016
Space Wars, Space Peace
Chris Bowlby explores the shifting balance between two visions of outer space - as a place of harmony and as a zone of growing international tension. We may think war in space is a scenario dreamed up by Hollywood. But the world's top military minds now believe future wars will be fought both on Earth - and above it. Chris visits an arms sales fair, and hears how space now affects everything from how armies move, to how nuclear deterrence works. Could crucial satellites he hacked in an act of aggression, might space debris trigger a war? Why is China taking space security so seriously? And can the international cooperation which put astronaut Tim Peake into space survive? Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Jan 25, 2016
Tomas Sedlacek: The Economics of Good and Evil
What have the Book of Genesis and the movie Fight Club got to do with GDP? According to the radical Czech economist, Tomas Sedlacek, quite a lot. He believes notions of sin and belief recorded in ancient texts should influence our thinking about the contemporary economy - and he describes the biblical story of the 7 fat cows and 7 lean cows as "the first macro-economic forecast". He argues passionately that we need to make the economy work for us, rather than us working for the state of the economy. And he condemns the way most nations have got themselves hooked on debt, in a never-ending cycle. Evan Davis interviewed Sedlacek,at University College London as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations for the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Producer: Hugh Levinson.
Jan 1, 2016
Correspondents' Look Ahead: 2016
Who and what will be making the global headlines in 2016? Owen Bennett-Jones and leading BBC correspondents discuss and give their predictions about what will shape the world in the year ahead and assess its likely impact on the United Kingdom. Owen is joined by Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet who has spent the year reporting from across the globe. North America Editor Jon Sopel looks ahead to next year's US Presidential election. Who does he think will win the race for the White House? Joining them are the BBC's most experienced diplomatic correspondents, James Robbins and Bridget Kendall. Last year she predicted that 2015 would be a year of shocking terrorist activities in Europe and a big year for the Pope. What will she and the other correspondents predict for 2016? Producer: Jim Frank
Nov 9, 2015
Will They Always Hate Us?
The Middle East conflict and other long-running international disputes have so far proved incapable of resolution by war or traditional diplomacy. So are the parties fated always to hate each other? Or might there be another approach that could be worth trying? David Edmonds explores new ideas that psychologists are testing which could offer a way of tackling seemingly intractable disputes. These include understanding the real importance of sacred sites and how to negotiate about them, how to achieve empathy with opponents and the importance of how different sides understand historical events and how these then lastingly shape how different groups view each other. The programme also hears from those with direct experience of conflict resolution and negotiation to understand how they react to what the latest research has to say. These include Senator George Mitchell, who was famously involved in talks over both Northern Ireland and the Middle East, and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's fo…
Nov 2, 2015
Currencies and Countries
Looking at the UK, reunified Germany and the European Union, the former Conservative Cabinet Minister John Redwood MP asks how successful a currency union can be without political union behind it. After the travails of the eurozone in the wake of Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and - above all - Greek woes, John Redwood argues that the pressure is growing on the countries which use the euro to move closer politically. But not everyone in those countries agrees, as he discovers. Meanwhile, in the UK, leading Scottish Nationalists continue to make the argument for Scotland to become independent while retaining the pound. But how sustainable is this position? And what are the lessons of the decision by the German government to bring together the old East and West using a currency union that valued both countries' currencies at the same rate despite a huge gap in the productivity between the two? Producer: Simon Coates.
Oct 26, 2015
Carnivore and steak-lover Jo Fidgen attempts to work out whether killing cows for food can be morally justified Many meat eaters believe animal suffering should be avoided. They buy higher welfare products or free range eggs and hope the animal they plan to eat has had a good life and a painless death. But if animal suffering matters, surely animal death does too? Omnivorous Jo Fidgen explores the ethics of killing cows for food. She discusses cow psychology, fart spray and cannibalism with leading philosophers like Peter Singer and Jeff MacMahan. And she tests her own intuitions about meat eating as she looks a bullock in the eye before picking up some of his his minced and butchered body a few weeks later. And eating it. While on this ethical journey Jo confronts big questions about where morals come from, what is bad about killing humans and how we decide what beings are worthy of our moral attention. Producer: Lucy Proctor.
Oct 19, 2015
Will George Be King?
Edward Stourton examines the long-term prospects for the British monarchy as an avowed republican becomes leader of the opposition. At least eighty per cent of the population affirm their belief in the institution, opinion polls suggest - a figure that has remained remarkably constant since the Queen, now the longest serving monarch, ascended to the throne. But how can we be sure that this support and the institutions that underpin the monarchy will remain by the time her great-grandson becomes King? Within two or three generations the constitutional make-up of Britain could look very different. Could the monarchy withstand a series of upheavals such as the disestablishment of the Church of England, Scottish independence, a weakening of Britain's links with the Commonwealth and reform of the House of Lords (along with the remnants of the hereditary principle)? What if the institutional foundations on which the monarchy rests change irrevocably or disappear altogether? By the time Prin…
Oct 12, 2015
Scotland's Radical Land Reform
In June the Scottish Government introduced radical proposals for land reform. Local communities would gain a new right to ask the government to force a landowner to sell their land if they are deemed a barrier to sustainable development. The plan caused uproar amongst landowners. David Cameron's father-in-law, Lord Astor, claimed the SNP was staging a Mugabe-style land grab. Yet campaigners in the growing cross-party movement for reform see this as just the start of a generational mission to break up the most unequal pattern of land ownership in the developed world. Is this an attack on the right of individuals to hold on to their property - or a much-needed step towards sustainable development? Euan McIlwraith asks why so few people own so much of Scotland, whether it matters, and how you can legitimately diversify ownership in a 21st century liberal democracy. Producer: Liza Grieg. (Image: The Scottish Highlands. Credit: Shutterstock)
Oct 5, 2015
The Iran-Iraq War's Legacy
Lyse Doucet asks how far the Middle East today is defined by the legacy of the Iran-Iraq war? The conflict - the longest convention war of the 20th century- exposed deep fault lines in a region still shattered by violence. Thirty five years after it began, Iraq has imploded. Syria too. And Iran is extending its influence. Lyse retells the story of the war, then is joined by a panel of guests to ask if the events of three decades ago can help us understand what's going on in the Middle East today? Guests: Professor Mansour Farhang : Former Ambassador to UN of the Islamic Republic of Iran Sinan Antoon: Iraqi poet and novelist Dr Haider al-Safi: BBC Arabic service Professor Ali Ansari: Historian and Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, St Andrews University Producers: Mike Gallagher and Rozita Riazati.
Sep 28, 2015
Can We Learn to Live with Nuclear Power?
The Fukushima disaster made many people oppose nuclear power. Michael Blastland asks what it would take to change their minds. In 2011, following a devastating tsunami, Japan's Fukushima nuclear power station went into meltdown, leaking radiation. It was the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl. It appeared to send the nuclear power industry into retreat - and not just in Japan. Other nations had second thoughts too. Germany decided to phase out its nuclear reactors altogether. But now Japan has resumed nuclear power generation. At the heart of the 'nuclear wobble' of 2011 is the question of risk. Attitudes to, and understanding of, risk vary surprisingly between nations and cultures. But after one of the most shocking incidents in nuclear power's history, will we be able to cope with our fears? In other words, can we learn to live with nuclear power? Producers: Ruth Alexander and Smita Patel.
Sep 21, 2015
What's Housing Benefit For?
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, asks why Britain spends such vast sums on Housing Benefit - now £25 billion. He examines the history of these payments and how government funding for house-building has gradually changed into subsidies for rents, especially to private landlords. 40% of tenants in private housing receive Housing Benefit. Critics argue that these have distorted the market and failed to address the fundamental shortage of housing supply. Paul asks how we got here and whether anything can change. Producer: Adam Bowen.
Jul 20, 2015
Free Movement: Britain's Burning EU debate
Freedom of movement will be a key battleground in Britain's crucial EU debate. It gives EU citizens the right to live and work anywhere in the union and is praised by supporters as boosting prosperity. But critics say it has created unsustainable waves of mass migration and must be restricted. So where does this policy actually come from, and what does it mean in practice? Sonia Sodha discovers why it has become such a crucial issue, and what's at stake as Britain decides its European future. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Jul 13, 2015
Who are "the people" - and who's keeping power from them? Eliane Glaser explores how across Europe and beyond, populist movements are claiming they can to put back politicians in touch with voters and reinvigorate democracy from the grassroots. From UKIP's millions of voters to the passionately engaged Scottish referendum, from the rise of nationalist parties in northern Europe to burgeoning left-wing movements like Syriza and Podemos further south, traditional politicians are feeling the public's wrath. But how much of the crowd-pleasing rhetoric can be taken at face value - and do politicians really now think of themselves as ordinary people? Contributors: Professor PAUL TAGGART, University of Sussex Professor VERNON BOGDANOR, King's College London DOUGLAS CARSWELL, UKIP MP for Clacton SIRIO CANOS, Podemos PETER OBORNE, journalist and author Professor CAS MUDDE, University of Georgia Producer: Polly Hope. (Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images. Picture shows a woman holding a placa…
Jul 6, 2015
Why do American police kill so many black men?
Recent high profile cases of unarmed black men dying at the hands of the US police have sparked outrage, protests and civil unrest in several American cities. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray are - some claim - evidence of long-standing problems with police racism and excessive violence. But what do we really know about what's happening? Helena Merriman explores the issues of racism, bias and police use of force. And the head of President Obama's taskforce on police reform, Charles Ramsey, tells us that fixing the problem will involve much more than just fixing the police. (Photo copyright: Reuters)
Jun 29, 2015
Samuel Scheffler on the Afterlife
The American philosopher Samuel Scheffler reveals a hidden force which motivates our actions: our belief in the continuation of humanity after our deaths. In an interview with Edward Stourton, plus a Q&A from an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Scheffler proposes thought experiments which expose the importance of this conception of the afterlife. It is, he argues, this continued existence of the human race in general - and not just of our own descendants - which gives meaning and purpose to much of our lives. With references to Woody Allen, National Porn Shops and Martin Luther. Scheffler is professor of philosophy and law at New York University. Producer: David Edmonds.
Jun 26, 2015
Is it Time for the Internet to Grow Up?
In its short lifetime, the world wide web has raised giants and monsters. It's transformed sections of the economy, from retail to publishing and the music industry. It has had a profound effect on journalism and the transmission of ideas. It has facilitated social networks which have penetrated deep into the private lives of millions of people around the world. It has even been held responsible for far-reaching political upheavals like the Arab Spring. Some internet evangelists compare the web to the Wild West, a territory full of exciting opportunity that will lose its character and potential if it's brought under the rule of law. Others insist that the web is too disruptive to established institutions and practices and must be tamed. So, what do we want from the next 25 years of the internet? And how can we go about getting it? Producer: Luke Mulhall.
Jun 22, 2015
How Gay Became OK
Why have British attitudes towards homosexuality changed so far and so fast? Less than 50 years ago, sex between men was a criminal act. Now they can marry. It's not just the law that has changed: we have. Surveys suggest that public opinion about homosexuality has undergone a dramatic shift over the same period. Jo Fidgen asks what drives this kind of change in collective attitudes. Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou.
Jun 15, 2015
Making Invisibles Visible
The UK is the world's second largest exporter of services - and has been for some time. The surplus generated by these "invisibles" - everything from banking to public relations to whizzy new phone apps - helps balance the country's stubbornly high deficit in "visibles" or things. Yet politicians talk continually about the need to rebalance the economy away from services. Linda Yueh finds this puzzling. As with other advanced economies, services comprise a very large proportion of our output - around three-quarters of the economy - and yet we spend a great deal of time worrying about a far smaller and long declining part of it: manufacturing. It is understandable to want to reduce our deficit in goods, says Linda. But while we try to do that, she argues, we should also try to understand more about the reasons for our success in services - and how to maintain and augment it. In this edition of "Analysis", she finds out why it is difficult to make invisibles visible and why it is impor…
Jun 8, 2015
Is the Pope a Communist?
Pope Francis' critique of modern economics has made him an icon for the Left and prompted claims that he is a Communist. The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics has called capitalism, at best, a source of inequality and, at worst, a killer. Edward Stourton examines the Pope's critique of the free market system and explores the origins of his thinking in Latin America and in Catholic Social Teaching. Is Pope Francis, as his critics claim, dragging his church to the Left and promoting a Marxist branch of liberation theology? And what does his insistence on seeing the world through the eyes of the poor mean for modern notions of charity? We hear from the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols; corporate lawyer turned Catholic priest, Fr Augusto Zampini Davies; Chief Economist at The Heritage Foundation (a free market think tank based in Washington), Stephen Moore; Professor or Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St Mary's University, Twickenham and Programme Director at the In…
Jun 1, 2015
Ritual Sexual Abuse: The Anatomy of a Panic (Part 2)
David Aaronovitch of The Times traces the powerful intellectual influences behind what he sees as one of the most important cultural shifts of the past 40 years: from a society in which accusations of sexual abuse were wrongly ignored to one in which the falsely accused were crushed by a system where the mantra was "victims must be believed". In the second of two programmes, Aaronovitch re-examines the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain. The programme explores the parallels between the belief in ritual abuse with some of the claims being made today about VIP paedophile rings and group murder. Some of the mistakes of the past - such as the false accusations made against parents in the Orkneys and Rochdale of satanic abuse - have been acknowledged. But, Aaronovitch argues, without a profound understanding of how and why such mora…
May 25, 2015
Ritual Sexual Abuse: The Anatomy of a Panic (Part 1)
David Aaronovitch of The Times traces the powerful intellectual influences behind what he sees as one of the most important cultural shifts of the past 40 years: from a society in which accusations of sexual abuse were wrongly ignored to one in which the falsely accused were crushed by a system where the mantra was "victims must be believed". In the first of two programmes, Aaronovitch will examine the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain. From the NSPCC to academia it was believed that children were being sexually abused in group Satanic rituals, which involved murder and animal sacrifice. The programme will explore how these bizarre ideas took hold, how they were related to mistaken psychotherapeutic practices, and how they resonate still. The programme will look at the influences of four books which played a key role in influe…
Apr 14, 2015
Is the West losing its military edge? Mark Urban investigates whether the US and its allies are losing superiority as they cut defence spending while rivals increase theirs.
Mar 30, 2015
Company vs Country
Michael Robinson asks what lies behind the boom in companies suing governments.
Mar 23, 2015
Jeremy Cliffe of The Economist asks if our real political divide is between those who feel comfortable in liberal, diverse, urban Britain and those who do not - the cosmopolitans vs the rest. He argues that the success of UKIP is one sign of this division. At one end are the cosmopolitans - comfortable in diverse Britain, urban and socially liberal. At the other end are the non-cosmopolitans, who tend to be older, white, and socially conservative, This new divide poses a serious problem for the established political parties. How can they appeal to one side without alienating the other? And what role does the traditional left-right split play? Producer: Lucy Proctor.
Mar 16, 2015
Caring in the New Old Age
Is it time to rethink how we care for older people, to enable them to have fulfilling lives? In recent years the media has highlighted terrible cases of paid carers abusing and neglecting vulnerable, older people. Is it now time for a more fundamental re-examination of how society should care for older people? Much is made of the poor status, low wages and lack of training of workers in the care system. Why are older people entrusted to them in a way which we would never allow for children? Should we tackle the view that old age is simply a period of decline that has to be managed rather than an opportunity for a fulfilling final chapter of life? Sonia Sodha examines new thinking from Japan, the US and closer to home about how care might be done differently. And she considers whether we need to change our approach to how we look after the elders in our society. Producer: Ian Muir-Cochrane.
Mar 9, 2015
The End of Development
Over recent decades, the richer world has poured money towards poorer countries, in the form of aid and loans for development over many decades. But is this top-down solution really effective? Anthropologist Henrietta Moore argues that the age of development is over, and that we need to move to new ideas about how to improve human lives. Professor Moore, who heads the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London, says that the fatal flaw of "development" is that it is a concept invented by the global North and imposed on the global South. She speaks to students from across the world at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Government, who and then faces their questions. The lecture is chaired by the school's dean, Professor Ngaire Woods. Producer: Julie Ball.
Mar 2, 2015
When Robots Steal Our Jobs
Technology has been replacing manufacturing jobs for years. Is the same about to happen to white-collar work? Will new faster, smarter computers start destroying more jobs than they create? Technologists and economists are now arguing that we are approaching a turning point, where professional jobs are becoming automated, leaving less and less work for humans to do. David Baker investigates the evidence and asks what this means for society, the individual and equality. Producer: Charlotte McDonald.
Feb 23, 2015
Should we beware the machines? Professor Stephen Hawking has warned the rise of Artificial Intelligence could mean the end of the human race. He's joined other renowned scientists urging computer programmers to focus not just on making machines smarter, but also ensuring they promote the good and not the bad. How seriously should we take the warnings that super-intelligent machines could turn on us? And what does AI teach us about what it means to be human? Helena Merriman examines the risks, the opportunities and how we might avoid being turned into paperclips. Producer: Sally Abrahams.
Feb 16, 2015
Downward Social Mobility
Social mobility is a good thing - right? Politicians worry that not enough people from less-privileged backgrounds get the opportunity to move up in life. But are we prepared to accept that others lose out - and move in the opposite direction? Jo Fidgen explores the implications of downward social mobility. Producer: Charlotte McDonald.
Feb 9, 2015
You Can't Say That
Does free speech include a right to cause offence? Many thinkers have insisted that it must - but debate has raged for millennia over where the limits to insult can be set. While some maintain Enlightenment values must include permission to shock, offend and even injure, there is a growing sense that rights must be balanced by responsibilities to one's community, in speech as well as action. And as technology has given each of us an worldwide platform to express any idea, anywhere, the potential for instant, global offence has only grown. How are we to define how much is too much - and what really distinguishes insult from injury? Edward Stourton speaks to historians, theologians and philosophers to explore the outer limits of free expression. Producer: Polly Hope.
Feb 2, 2015
Scotland last year showed how dramatic referendums can be. So what would an in-out vote on the EU be like? What would be the crucial strategies for a winning campaign? The stakes would be huge for the UK, and if those who want a vote get their way, this could happen within the next few years. Chris Bowlby talks to key potential players and observers about their fears and hopes, lessons drawn from Scotland, and campaign plans already being made behind the scenes. Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Jan 26, 2015
Maskirovka: Deception Russian-Style
'Maskirovka' is the Russian military strategy of deception, involving techniques to surprise and deceive the enemy. Lucy Ash looks back over its long history from repelling invading Mongols in the 14th Century, to its use to confound the Nazis in World War II, to the current conflict in Ukraine. Translated literally maskirovka means "a little masquerade", but it also points to strategic, operational, physical and tactical duplicity. When heavily-armed, mask-wearing gunmen - labelled the 'little green men' - took over government buildings in Crimea last year, was this a classic example of maskirovka in the 21st century? All nations use deception as a strategy in war, but Analysis asks whether any other nation has pursued guile as an instrument of policy so long and so ardently as Russia. Producer: Katy Hickman.
Jan 2, 2015
Correspondents Look Ahead
Mark Mardell forecasts how the world could change in 2015, aided by top BBC journalists Lyse Doucet, Carrie Gracie, Kamal Ahmed and Bridget Kendall.
Nov 17, 2014
Precedents or Principles?
We firmly believe that our choices - about what we eat and how we vote - reflect the inner core of our being. But do those choices originate in principle - or simply because of what we have done in the past? Psychologist Nick Chater asks if precedent matters more than principles and discovers a complex interplay between the two forces which govern the choices we make. Producer: Simon Coates.
Nov 10, 2014
Conservative Muslims, Liberal Britain
The recent so called Trojan Horse dispute in some Birmingham schools shone a light on how separately from the liberal British mainstream a significant conservative bloc of British Muslims wants to live. Although some Muslim parents objected, most seemed happy to go along with rigorous gender segregation, the rejection of sex education and ban on music and arts lessons. Why is it that so many British Muslims - especially from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds - seem to be converging much more slowly, if at all, on liberal British norms? Is this a problem in a liberal society and what are the future trends likely to be? David Goodhart, of the think tank Demos, visits Leicester in search of some answers. He listens to many different Muslim voices from a mufti who advises Muslims on how to navigate everyday life in a non-Muslim society to a liberal reformer who is dismayed at seeing more women wearing the niqab. East is East (extract with Jane Horrocks and Ayub Khan) is playing at the…
Nov 3, 2014
Margaret Heffernan explores why big organisations so often make big mistakes - and asks if the cure could be the aviation industry's model of a "just culture". In the past ten years, there have been a string of organizational failures - from BP to the banks, from the Catholic Church to Rotherham. In each instance, hundreds, even thousands of people could see what was going on but acted as though they were blind. Silence ensured the problems continued and allowed them to grow. The conditions that create the phenomenon called "wilful blindness" are pervasive across institutions, both public and private. Wherever there have been cases of organisational failure you typically find individuals who are over-stretched, distracted and exhausted. They cannot see because they cannot think. Businesswoman and writer Margaret Heffernan argues that the solution is a "just culture"; which means organizations that encourage people to speak up early and often when things go adrift, without fear of be…
Oct 27, 2014
Inside Welfare Reform
Economist Jonathan Portes assesses how well the government has implemented its controversial welfare reforms. The government describes the programme as "the most ambitious, fundamental and radical changes to the welfare system since it began". When the Coalition came to power in 2010, welfare - not including pensions - was costing the country nearly £100 billion a year. Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions, was given the task of making work pay and - in so doing - taking millions of people off benefit and saving the country billions. Influential figures from parliament, the civil service and one of Iain Duncan Smith's closest advisers offer revealing accounts of what's been happening during those past 4 years. Economist Jonathan Portes asks whether these changes are a vital strategy to stem a welfare system spiralling out of control or - as some argue - nothing short of a fiasco, which has caused genuine hardship? Producer: Adele Armstrong.
Oct 20, 2014
The Idea of the Caliphate
What is a caliphate? What ideals does such an Islamic state embody - and how could or should it be implemented? Analysis consults a range of voices to explore how the concept has evolved and has been expressed over the centuries. Edward Stourton talks to historians, religious scholars and political thinkers who offer their perspectives on caliphates of the past, the revivalist rhetoric of the present and the beliefs shared by many Muslims about its future return. Contributors: Prof Hugh Kennedy, School of Oriental and African Studies Sheikh Ruzwan Mohammed, Sunni theologian and scholar Rebecca Mastertron, Shiite commentator Dr Reza Pankhurst, author, "The Inevitable Caliphate?" Dr Caroline Finkel, author, "Osman's Dream: the History of the Ottoman Empire" Dr Salman Sayyid, Leeds University, author, "Recalling the Caliphate" Dr Abdou Filali Ansary, Aga Khan University Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Polly Hope.
Oct 13, 2014
Meet the Family
Politicians love talking about supporting families. But, asks Jo Fidgen, do they understand modern family life? And how far can or should the state change the way families live? There's endless focus on young children and childcare, while family care for the elderly is rarely mentioned. She hears from policy insiders, those who have to define families to make their businesses work, individuals facing extraordinary challenges as family life changes with society and across the generations. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Oct 6, 2014
Peston and the House of Debt
Robert Peston tests the arguments made by the authors of a new book who claim the financial crisis was caused by exploding household debt - not by the banks. But are they right? Now the BBC's Economics Editor, he witnessed at first hand every twist and turn of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. He first exposed the crisis at Northern Rock as well as revealing the failure of Lehman Brothers. This makes him the ideal interviewer to probe the arguments and conclusions of "The House of Debt", a radical new study of the recession and the lessons to be learnt from it. In discussion with the book's authors, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, he subjects their arguments to rigorous scrutiny. They challenge the conventional wisdom that the banks were to blame for the recession in the US and UK. They argue that the real villain was the doubling between 2000 and 2007 in total American household debt to $14 trillion. Much of this was owed by borrowers with the poorest credit ratings. When the house pr…
Sep 29, 2014
Michael Pollan on Food
What should we eat? Jo Fidgen talks to the influential American writer Michael Pollan about what food is - and what it isn't. In an interview before an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science he criticises the way the food industry has promoted highly-processed products delivering hefty doses of salt, sugar and fat. He believes that the plethora of accompanying health claims have left us more confused than ever about what food really is, where it has come from and its impact on our health and the environment. His solution? To cook at home. He argues that this simple change will guarantee a healthy diet and stop us relying on big food companies to feed us. It is also, he says, a profoundly political act. But is it a realistic proposition for busy working families or simply a middle-class ideology? Producer: Sally Abrahams.
Jul 21, 2014
The downturn's made everyone worry more about money. But while we may want to be thriftier, Chris Bowlby discovers why we're stuck with high levels of personal and household debt. Credit has become a way of life and new technology makes it ever more accessible. We know we ought to save more for, say, old age, but pensions seem distant and a dodgy investment, while the government and others are desperate to encourage revived consumer spending . Borrowing to buy houses seems to many the best financial bet. Is there an alternative approach out there? A wide range of voices from different communities explore the mixture of hard financial fact, psychology and morality that's shaped our financial behaviour in such a turbulent few years. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Jul 14, 2014
The End of the Pay Rise?
Something strange has been happening in the British economy. For over six years now, wages have fallen for most of us, which is unprecedented in British modern history. And despite the return of economic growth, wages still have not picked up. What has happened? And crucially is this a long term problem - is this the end of the pay rise? Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, explores the mystery of our falling wages and finds out how it is related to how productive we are, but also to how wages themselves are shared out between the top earners and the rest of us. Producer: Estelle Doyle Contributors: ** Nikki King, Honorary Chairman, Isuzu Trucks UK ** Andy Haldane, chief economist, Central Bank of England ** Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics, Imperial College Business School ** Paul Gregg, Professor of Economic and social policy, University of Bath ** Nick Crafts, Professor of Economic History, Warwick University ** Andrew Sentance, former member of Cent…
Jun 30, 2014
Tories: Nasty or Nice?
Why have the Tories attracted the label 'the nasty party'? Tory supporter Robin Aitken explores why the phrase took hold, and why it matters in key national debates today. Senior and influential figures in the Tory party's recent history offer revealing personal accounts of what they believe and how the party is perceived by the outside world. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Hugh Levinson.
Jun 23, 2014
Varieties of Capitalism
What is the best form of capitalism? The free-market form found in countries such as the UK and the United States, or the more collaborative model which is common across Northern Europe? Some British politicians, from both the left and right, are somewhat starry-eyed when it comes to the way other countries run their economy and have even suggested the UK could improve its lot by importing practices found across Scandinavia and Germany. But is that remotely possible? In this edition of Analysis, Britain politics correspondent for The Economist Jeremy Cliffe investigates the different forms of capitalism defined by the Varieties of Capitalism school - most-famous for the book of the same name published in 2001. He begins by working out what makes a 'Liberal Market Economy' and a 'Coordinated Market Economy', and then digs deeper to find out how these different models formed in the first place. He discovers a deep web of intertwined government institutions which have been shaped over…
Jun 9, 2014
What Does Putin Want?
There's a new government in Kiev and Crimea is firmly in Russian hands. The political map of eastern Europe has changed dramatically in the last few months. But are Moscow's actions in the Ukraine crisis evidence of a long-term strategy to reassert Russia as a world power? Or are they the actions of a weakened government scrabbling to keep up with events? Edward Stourton investigates whether Vladimir Putin, former KGB Colonel and holder of a black belt in Judo, is playing a strategic game of chess , or just a high-stakes game of poker. Contributors: Anne Applebaum, historian Anna Arutunyan, author of The Putin Mystique Mary Dejevsky, columnist for The Independent Valery Korovin, Deputy Director, Eurasia Movement Sir Roderick Lyne, former UK ambassador to Russia Sergey Markov, Director of the Institute of Political Studies, Moscow Vyacheslav Nikonov, Member of the Russian State Duma Gleb Pavolovsky, senior political adviser to Boris Yeltsin and co-founder of the Foundation for Effect…
Jun 2, 2014
Time to Rethink Asylum?
Tim Finch of the Institute of Public Policy Research asks if it is time for a fundamental rethink of the way we deal with refugees. He investigates the history of asylum as a political issue, the way asylum policy is implemented in the UK today, and discusses various views on how refugees could be handled in the future. Our current system was introduced in the early 2000s in response to public anger over allegations of bogus asylum seekers. Earlier this year responsibility for assessing asylum claims was removed from the UK Border Agency to the Home Office, amidst claims that the system was not fit for purpose. Why does asylum continue to be such a vexed issue? CONTRIBUTORS Tua Fesefese, currently seeking asylum in the UK David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary 2001 - 4 Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director of the Migrant And Refugee Community Forum Oskar Ekblad, Head of Resettlement at the Swedish Migration Board Mark Harper, MP for Forest of Dean and Immigration Minister 2012 - 14 Roland…
May 26, 2014
Evan Davis interviews economic historian Deirdre McCloskey in front of an audience at the London School of Economics, where she argues that poverty matters more than inequality. She describes how at the beginning of the 19th century most people who had ever lived had survived on $3 a day. Today, on average, people in Western Europe and North America live on over $100 a day. Although Professor McCloskey is an economic historian, she says we can't explain this 'Great Enrichment' using economics alone. She also argues that capitalism is an inherently ethical system, and that it would be a mistake to prioritise equality over innovation. Prof McCloskey talks about the role of ideas and attitudes in creating modern prosperity and discusses what her study of history tells us about where our priorities should lie today. Producer: Luke Mulhall.
Mar 24, 2014
Why Minsky Matters
American economist Hyman Minsky died in 1996, but his theories offer one of the most compelling explanations of the 2008 financial crisis. His key idea is simple enough to be a t-shirt slogan: "Stability is destabilising". But TUC senior economist Duncan Weldon argues it's a radical challenge to mainstream economic theory. While the mainstream view has been that markets tend towards equilibrium and the role of banks and finance can largely be ignored, Minsky argued that in the good times the seeds of the next crisis are sown as the financial sector engages in riskier and riskier lending in pursuit of profit. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, this might seem obvious - so why did Minsky die an outsider? What do his ideas say about the response to the 2008 crisis and current policies like Help to Buy? And has mainstream economics done enough to respond to its own failure to predict the crisis and the challenge posed by Minsky's ideas? Producer: James Fletcher.
Mar 17, 2014
Eldar Shafir: Scarcity
(Image credit: Jerry Nelson) Jo Fidgen interviews Eldar Shafir, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, and co-author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much in front of an audience at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. Jo will explore the book's key idea: that not having enough money or time, shapes all of our reactions, and ultimately our lives and society. Producer: Ruth Alexander.
Mar 16, 2014
The Jihadi Spring
Owen Bennett-Jones asks if the real beneficiaries of the multiple failures of the Arab revolutions are the Islamist militants both of al-Qaeda and its increasingly violent allies. Does the West's tacit support for the reassertion of military control in Egypt send a powerful message to would-be Islamists - that they will never be allowed to achieve power through the ballot box? Producer: Leo Hornak.
Mar 3, 2014
Scotland and the Union: Can Britain be Rebooted?
Is there any such thing as unionism, and what is the case for the union? On September 18th, Scotland will vote in a referendum on whether to become independent. Supporters have been setting out their visions of how Scotland could be transformed. But what about those who want to keep Scotland within the United Kingdom? They've picked away at potential practical problems with independence - on sharing the pound sterling, or joining the European Union. But while the future may be unclear for an independent Scotland, the alternative of staying British may be just as unclear. Douglas Fraser asks if there's a grand vision for those who argue Scotland should stay in the union. Is it more than just an appeal to a shared history or institutions? Is the union fit for purpose in the 21st century? These aren't just questions for Scotland. They represent a challenge to the rest of the UK - how can democratic and economic power be distributed to tackle disaffection with politics and the centralisi…
Feb 24, 2014
Life by Lottery
Should we use chance to solve some of our most difficult political dilemmas? From US Green Cards to school place allocation, lotteries have been widely used as a means of fairly resolving apparently intractable problems. Jo Fidgen asks whether the time has come to consider whether more of society's problems might be solved by the luck of the draw. Producer: Leo Hornak.
Feb 17, 2014
A Is for Anonymous
The wish to be anonymous in our dealings with private companies or governments, in commenting on the news or in daily life seems to be increasing. For some, anonymity is an ironic response to the cult of celebrity that usually preoccupies us. For others, being anonymous enables us to reject the endless celebration of the individual that characterises our times and instead to find comfort and ease in the unidentifiable mass. Frances Stonor Saunders examines if the desire for being unknown - whether by the NHS or your search engine - is set to be the new trend of our times. She explores with those who use the cloak of anonymity - including whistleblowers, authors and medical practitioners - the benefits which concealing your identity can confer. But she also considers the dangers of not being identifiable and how these pitfalls may affect the rest of society. Producer Simon Coates.
Feb 10, 2014
What is Wahhabism?
Since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC, the ultra-conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam has often been cited by critics and commentators as the ideology of Islamic extremists around the world today. But can 21st Century terrorism really be blamed on the teachings of this 18th Century sect? In this edition of Analysis, Edward Stourton asks what is - and what isn't - Wahhabism? He explores the foundation of this fundamentalist form of Islam, the evolution of its interpretation in Saudi Arabia, and asks what power and influence it has across the globe. Founded by the Arabian scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, this form of Salafi Islam sought to purify the religion by returning to its original principles. Ibn Abd al-Wahab was part of a broader Muslim reform movement which promoted a return to the texts of the Quran and Hadith and, controversially, questioned the teachings of Islamic scholars of the day, who formed part of a chain of knowledge stretching back centuries. Wha…
Feb 3, 2014
The Philosophy of Russell Brand
In a recent Newsnight interview, the comedian Russell Brand predicted a revolution. His comments entertained many and became the most-watched political interview of 2013. But between the lines, Brand was also giving voice to the populist resurgence of a serious but controversial idea: anarchism. The new "anarcho-populism" is the 21st century activist's politics of choice. In evidence in recent student protests, the Occupy movement, in political encampments in parks and squares around the world, it combines age-old anarchist thought with a modern knack for inclusive, consumerist politics. Brand's interview was just one especially prominent example. The thinkers behind the movement say it points the way forward. Jeremy Cliffe, The Economist's Britain politics correspondent, asks if they are right? Producer: Lucy Proctor.
Jan 27, 2014
Last Rites for the Church of England?
Andrew Brown asks if the Church of England has become fatally disconnected from society.
Nov 18, 2013
Renowned social theorist Roberto Unger believes that left-of-centre progressives - his own political side - lack the imagination required to tackle the fundamental problems of society. In the run-up to the US presidential elections of 2012, he declared that his former student Barack Obama "must be defeated". Professor Unger argued that President Obama had failed in his first term in office to advance the progressive cause. There was, Unger maintained, effectively no difference between the Democrat and Republican political programmes. In front of an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Roberto Unger discusses with presenter Jo Fidgen the reasons for his critical appraisal of the progressive left in the United States and Europe. He sets out what he believes its alternative agenda should be and gives his verdict on another of his former students: Ed Miliband. Roberto Mangabeira Unger is the Roscoe Pound professor at Harvard Law School. He served as a ministe…
Nov 11, 2013
France: Sinking Slowly?
The French are far more attached to the idea of a centralised, big state than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. The philosophy behind it, Colbertism, holds that the economy of France should serve the state and that the state should direct the economy. But as France's big state looks less affordable, some French intellectuals are arguing that it is time that French identity became less tied to the dirigiste idea. Former BBC Paris Correspondent Emma Jane Kirby travels to France to meet those questioning their country's traditional resistance to economic reform. Producer: Fiona Leach.
Nov 4, 2013
Importing the Metropolitan Revolution
In America, there is talk of a "metropolitan revolution" as big cities reinvent themselves. Matthew Taylor asks if Britain too can transform its economy by setting city halls free. In America, there's a growing realisation that the old economic model, based on every city aiming for "a Starbucks, stadia and stealing business," has failed to revive urban economies. But now cities such as Denver, Colorado -- once famous for the oil money that inspired the soap opera Dynasty -- have turned a corner. This "Metropolitan Revolution" was led by local mayors who ripped up the old administrative boundaries and did creative things to diversify the economy and create jobs, such as building a vast new airports and offering incentives to hi-tech start-ups. For this week's edition of Analysis, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA and a former insider in Downing Street under Tony Blair, sets out to see if these new ideas could hold answers for Britain's long term economic future. Cities are wh…
Oct 28, 2013
Syria: Inside the Opposition
Syria's opposition movements comprise a diverse range of political and armed groups. But how do they differ in terms of their ideology, their modus operandi and in their vision for a post-conflict Syria? Edward Stourton investigates the numerous alternatives to President Assad and assesses which groups are gaining or losing influence on the ground after more than two years of bloody fighting. The programme will hear from those in charge of the National Coalition - the Istanbul based group officially recognised by the UK government but dismissed by some as "the opposition of the hotels". Ahead of the United Nations Geneva II negotiations, expected in late November, Edward Stourton will examine why, in a country with an overwhelming Sunni Muslim majority, a leader from the small Alawi minority community has managed to hang on to power. Contributions from: Monzer Akbik, Chief of Staff to the President of the National Coalition; Walid Saffour, former Muslim Brotherhood activist and Coa…
Oct 21, 2013
Quantitative Easing: Miracle Cure or Dangerous Addiction?
Quantitative Easing was the drug prescribed by economists to keep Western economies functioning in a moment of crisis. Sunday Telegraph economic commentator Liam Halligan argues that the policy of money creation has now become a dangerous addiction.Interviewees include:Dr Adam Posen, President of the Petersen Institute for International Economics in Washington DCStephen King, Chief Economist of HSBCJim Rickards, author of Currency WarsProfessor Richard Werner, Chair in International Banking at Southampton UniversityDan Conaghan, author of The Bank: Inside the Bank of EnglandDr Philippa Malmgren, former financial markets advisor to the US PresidentProducer: Phil Kemp.
Oct 14, 2013
What Are Charities For?
Charities have been drawn into the world of outsourced service provision, with the state as their biggest customer and payment made on a results basis. It is a trend which is set to accelerate with government plans to hand over to charities much of the work currently done by the public sector. But has the target driven world of providing such services as welfare to work support and rehabilitating offenders destroyed something of the traditional philanthropic nature of charities? Fran Abrams investigates.Producer: Mukul Devichand.
Oct 7, 2013
Edward Snowden: Leaker, Saviour, Traitor, Spy?
Last June, Edward Snowden, a man still in his twenties with, as he put it, "a home in paradise", went on the run. He took with him vast amounts of secret information belonging to the US government's security services.Snowden holds libertarian - or anti-statist - views. He believes the American government's pervasive surveillance activities which he revealed break the law but are also morally wrong.In Britain, "The Guardian" newspaper published the classified information Snowden had obtained. This seemed odd. Editorially, it was not sympathetic to Snowden's anti-state nostrums. But, on privacy grounds, it agreed with him that it was inherently wrong for democratic governments to spy on their citizens online. Furthermore, it argued that governments should not decide for themselves when and how they would do their surveillance.It is this political alliance between the libertarian right and the liberal left - which are normally opposed to one another - which David Aaronovitch investigates…
Sep 30, 2013
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: Why Did They Fail?
Barely a year after Egypt's post-revolution elections were held, millions of protestors took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi. After a short stand-off with army leaders, he was removed from power in what many describe as a coup d'etat. The subsequent clashes between Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces have proved violent and bloody and the country is once again being governed by the military - but what were the events which closed this short chapter in the fledgling Egyptian democracy? Christopher de Bellaigue speaks to insiders from across Egypt's political spectrum to reveal the mistakes and power-plays which led to the downfall of the country's first democratically elected president. Contributors: Dr Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, former Freedom and Justice Party MP for Luxor. Dr Hisham Hellyer, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (London) and the Brookings Institution (Washington). Dr Omar Ashour, senior…
Jul 22, 2013
The Rule of Law v the Rule of Man
With huge concern over tax avoidance, tax officials are the latest to be given increased powers of discretion. They will be able to penalise people who have obeyed the letter of the law, but who have contravened the spirit of the tax code - as determined by the officials themselves, based on certain criteria. The use of official discretion is now applying across the UK's legal systems, from areas such as tax and finance to crime and hate speech. Philosopher Jamie Whyte asks: is this growth in the Rule of Man undermining the Rule of Law? If officials can punish you, despite the fact that you followed the rules on the books, doesn't that raise the danger of injustice? Even though few tears are being shed for tax avoiders, couldn't the lack of legal clarity lead to uncertainty? Would that drive business away from Britain? Jamie unravels the methods of sophisticated tax lawyers, and speaks to academic thinkers and legislators. He asks if we are we creating a culture where it pays to cosy…
Jul 15, 2013
Scottish Nationalism: From Protest to Power
Just what does the Scottish National Party want? And what could it mean for the UK? Douglas Fraser investigates the SNP's long search for an independence vision that works. He talks to insiders about the party's turbulent past, torn, as one leader put it, between 'Jacobites and Jacobins'. How has the party tried to build a vision of Scottish identity that keeps pace with social change? Does it aim to preserve the old British welfare state, or try something different? What do its plans for continued close links with the rest of the UK mean for its vision of a separate Scotland? Scotland may be diverging more and more from England, whatever happens in next year's independence referendum. With that vote fast approaching, where this debate is heading matters for everyone in the UK. The SNP's journey reveals much about this important change. Presenter: Douglas Fraser Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Innes Bowen.
Jul 8, 2013
They're Coming for Your Money
Paul Johnson, the director of the widely-respected independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, has been looking at the latest projections for how much the government will spend in the next five years and how much revenue it will receive. Despite the recent announcement of further cuts in spending, tax rises look difficult to avoid. Paul explores the reasons for this gap in the budget and asks what taxes could help to fill it. With tax avoidance and evasion now at the top of world leaders' agendas, he asks if the increasingly tax-averse companies sector can be made to pay more and how much the rich and wealthy could contribute. He also considers the taxation of our houses and pensions and whether more will be taken from them. Then he focuses on the three levies which contribute the lion's share of government revenue - income tax, national insurance and VAT - and, with politicians, economists and tax experts, finds out how much we are all - young and old, better and worse off - likely to…
Jul 1, 2013
Syria and the New Lines in the Sand
Where the Arab Spring overthrew dictators, is the Middle East now dismantling the very 'lines in the sand' imposed by Britain and France a century ago? Edward Stourton investigates.
Jun 24, 2013
Pornography: What Do We Know?
What do we really know about the effects of pornography? Public debate has become increasingly dominated by an emotive, polarised argument between those who say it is harmful and those who say it can be liberating. Jo Fidgen puts the moral positions to one side and investigates what the evidence tells us. She explores the limitations of the research that's been carried out and asks whether we need to update our understanding of pornography. She hears from users of pornography about how and why they use it and researchers reveal what they have learnt about our private pornographic habits. With pornography becoming increasingly easy to access online, and as policy-makers, parents and teachers discuss how to deal with this, it's a debate that will have far-reaching implications on education and how we use the internet. Producer: Helena Merriman Interviewees: Professor Neil Malamuth - University of California Dr Miranda Horvath - Middlesex University Dr Ogi Ogas - Author of A Billio…
Jun 17, 2013
Predistribution is Labour's new policy buzzword, used by leader Ed Miliband in a keynote speech. The US thinker who coined the phrase tells Edward Stourton what it means.
Jun 10, 2013
The Quantified Self: Can Life Be Measured?
Self knowledge through numbers is the motto of the "quantified self" movement. Calories consumed, energy expended, work done, places visited or how you feel. By recording the data of your daily life online, the life-loggers claim, you get to know who you really are. So far this type of self-tracking is the obsession of a geeky minority. But through our smartphones and social networking sites more and more of us being drawn into this world by stealth. Frances Stonor Saunders asks what it means for our ideas about privacy and sense of self. Producer: Fiona Leach.
Jun 3, 2013
Is Regional Policy a Waste of Time?
The gap between English north and south is growing. But does government have the answer? In the north-east of England, Alison Wolf discovers why 'regional policy' may be a waste of time. Does better infrastructure or state support for 'key' industries make a real difference? But there's a twist. Instead of everyone heading from north to south, there may just be a move back in the other direction. She discovers that individuals chasing quality of life, not government pushing its policies, will be what really decides the regions' future. Presenter: Professor Alison Wolf Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Richard Vadon.
May 27, 2013
Labour's New New Jerusalem
The words of William Blake's Jerusalem were invoked by Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee when he launched his party's proudest achievement: the creation of a welfare state. "I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem, In England's green and pleasant land." But some leading Labour Party figures no longer believe in the top down model that was meant to make real that vision of a "new Jerusalem". Mukul Devichand hears from leading Labour Party figures who want a radical new welfare settlement, saying the state itself is to blame for society's ills as much as the market. This new cadre of Labour thinkers is known as "Blue Labour". Two years ago we made a programme about them. Then they were worried about the impact of immigration on blue collar communities. Now they are part of Labour's inner circle: academic Maurice Glasman has been elevated to the House of Lords; Jon Cruddas MP is in charge of writing the party's manifesto…
Mar 25, 2013
Nudge Theory in Practice
Politicians are wary of forcing us to do the things they think we should such as drinking less, saving more for our pensions or using public transport. But they are also reluctant to do nothing. The theories expounded in the book Nudge, published in 2008, suggested there was a third way: a "libertarian paternalist" option whereby governments made doing the right thing easier but not obligatory. Rather than making pensions compulsory, for example, governments could make saving for one the default option whilst preserving the right to opt out. Nudge theory appealed to our better selves and to our politicians. The book's ideas were taken up by those inside government in Britain and the US. One of the book's authors, Cass Sunstein, answers questions from an audience at the Institute for Government in London and tells presenter Edward Stourton how well he thinks his theories are working in practice. Producer: Rosamund Jones.
Mar 18, 2013
Who Decides if I'm a Woman?
A spat between feminist Suzanne Moore and transgender rights activists played out on social networking sites, and then hit the headlines when journalist Julie Burchill joined in too. Jo Fidgen explores the underlying ideas which cause so much tension between radical feminists and transgender campaigners, and discovers why recent changes in the law and advances in science are fuelling debate. Contributors: James Barrett, consultant psychiatrist and lead clinician at the Charing Cross National Gender Identity Clinic Julie Bindel, feminist and journalist Lord Alex Carlile QC, Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords Melissa Hines, professor of psychology at Cambridge University Richard O'Brien, writer of the Rocky Horror Show Ruth Pearce, postgraduate researcher in sociology at the University of Warwick Stephen Whittle OBE, professor of equalities law at Manchester Metropolitan University Producer: Ruth Alexander.
Mar 11, 2013
Three Score Years and Twenty
As more and more people look forward to ever longer life, Analysis examines what it's like to grow old in Britain and what we can learn from other countries facing the same challenge. We've heard much about the financial issues around pensions or health care. But it also poses more fundamental questions - is Britain a good society in which to grow old? Will those precious extra years be a time of wellbeing or alienation and loneliness? And, do other parts of the world have strengths from which we could learn? Chris Bowlby talks to those who have a unique perspective on this - migrants who came to the UK in the hope of better prospects. They can compare British society with other places they know as well. Many are now weighing up what to do when their working lives are over. And a number do not expect to stay here. Their children work long hours and live a distance away. The three-generation homes that supported their own grandparents as they grew old will not be an option for them. M…
Mar 4, 2013
The Muslim Brotherhood is a global ideological network enjoying popular support across the Sunni Muslim world. It, and closely related Islamic groups, are well established across the Muslim world: from North Africa to the Middle East, Turkey, the Indian subcontinent and Malaysia. Christopher de Bellaigue discovers how this community of faith and politics has been influenced by the rise to power of its founding branch: the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Producer: Sue Davies.
Feb 25, 2013
Roberto Unger & Vulgar Keynesianism
Roberto Unger is an American-based thinker who is highly critical of the current ideas from left-of-centre politicians and thinkers about how to restore advanced economies to healthy growth. His devastating attack last summer on what he saw as the shortcomings of President Obama's plans for a second term made him an overnight internet sensation. For Unger, what he and others call "vulgar Keynesianism" - the idea that governments should spend more money to stimulate growth and create jobs - has little left to offer. It is unlikely to have a big enough impact and will disappoint both politicians and voters. Instead, he argues, those who think of themselves as progressive need to think much more boldly and creatively. And this applies not just to ideas about the economy but also to politics and democratic institutions. What he sees as a drab, predictable - and failed - approach needs a complete overhaul. In this edition of "Analysis", Tim Finch talks to Roberto Unger about his critique…
Feb 18, 2013
Making the Best of a Bad Job
David Goodhart considers whether the declining status of basic jobs can be halted and even reversed. Successive governments have prioritised widening access to higher education to try to drive social mobility, without giving much thought to the impact this has on the expectations of young people who, for whatever reason, are not going to take that path. But even in a knowledge-based economy, the most basic jobs survive. Offices still need to be cleaned, supermarket shelves stacked, and care home residents looked after. The best employers know how to design these jobs to make them more satisfying. Are politicians finally waking up to the problem? Contributors in order of appearance: Caroline Lloyd, professor and industrial relations specialist at the University of Cardiff Donna Braithwaite, supermarket worker Bill Mumford, chief executive of care charity MacIntyre Geoff Dench, sociologist and founder of the charity Men for Tomorrow. Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust Andr…
Feb 11, 2013
In the last few weeks a number of high street names have closed for good. In Analysis Phil Tinline asks whether, amid the gloom, there is a reason to celebrate. The economist Joseph Schumpeter first coined the phrase "creative destruction" in the 1940s. Innovation he believed causes the death of established businesses and leads to new opportunities. So, are company failures necessary for future growth? Or is "creative destruction" a comforting delusion, not a saving grace? Producer : Rosamund Jones.
Feb 4, 2013
The government of President Assad of Syria is under threat. So too is the secretive Shia sect known as the Alawis - or Alawites - to which he and many of the governing party and security officials belong. Hostility towards the minority Alawi population is such that one leading commentator predicts they are likely to be the victims of the world's next genocide. Presenter Owen Bennett Jones investigates the Alawis' origins, history and culture and asks how these once marginalised people came to power in a Sunni majority state. He discovers that for many their fortunes changed fifty years ago when the Baath party seized power in a coup d'etat. Alawis were dominant among the army officers who took control. They set about modernising the country and rolling out a secular agenda. Now, as Syria's revolution has morphed into a civil war, many Alawis believe their only choice is to kill or be killed. Are the majority of Alawis right to be convinced that the Assad regime is all that stands betwe…
Jan 28, 2013
A Scottish Pound?
The cash question facing an independent Scotland. Chris Bowlby discovers the key role of currency in debate ahead of the Scottish referendum next year. With the SNP proposing to keep using sterling if Scotland becomes independent, what will this mean in the world of eurozone crises and financial panics? We discover the mysterious story of Scottish money - how its banknotes are guaranteed by so called giants and titans at the Bank of England. And we ask whether sterling can continue to work smoothly and keep popular confidence if the UK splits. What's the thinking behind the scenes as politicians and officials worry about a British version of the eurozone drama? With Scotland preparing to vote next year, and London wondering what could happen, Analysis reveals the key role of currency in the UK's political future. Producer Mark Savage Editor Innes Bowen.
Jan 21, 2013
The Rise of Executive Power
In the battle over rewards at work, workers grew accustomed to winning a healthy share of the spoils during the 1960s and 1970s - and to being accorded high status. Since the 1980s, however, the power of executives has grown and is now reflected in their own much higher financial rewards and enhanced esteem. What explains this shift in power - and will it last? Michael Blastland asks why workers have appeared to be so weak as bosses have redressed the balance of power at work so strikingly in their own favour. Laws curbing trade union power, for example, so often cited as the explanation can, though, only be part of the reason. Investors - both owners and shareholders - have also lost out financially in relative terms as executives have grown wealthier and stronger. So what explains the power of the executive class? Are there other trends at work which help explain the relative position of executives and workers? And if both workers and investors want to increase their share of the r…
Nov 12, 2012
Green Shoots from the Arab Spring
With the downfall of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, political change has already happened in Egypt. But how has such a revolution affected the mindset of ordinary people in the region? In this edition of Analysis, the writer, Christopher de Bellaigue, considers the consequences for Arab society of a new culture in which ordinary people openly question those in authority - not just in the political sphere but within the family and religious realm too. The programme explores a number of examples: From an apparent new determination to resist paying bribes to public officials, through a greater desire to see active debate rather than passive obedience in the classroom, to the growth of salafists - conservative Muslims who advocate a return to the core texts of Islam and a less deferential attitude towards the traditional scholars. Though not all these phenomena were unknown before the Arab Spring, the political revolution does seem to have fuelled their growth: Key to man…
Nov 5, 2012
Left Turn to Catholic Social Teaching?
Catholic Social Teaching embodies a tradition of thought which goes back to Aristotle; yet its proponents say that it offers the sharpest critique of rampant capitalism in our present time. Charting a course through the dichotomies of capital versus labour, the free market versus welfare state, public versus private, its aim is to redraw the social and political landscape and put human dignity and virtue back at the centre. Matthew Taylor, former policy advisor to New Labour, ponders the tradition and asks what it might offer to post credit crunch polities which are looking for ways to regenerate. There is no doubt that it has captured the policy zeitgeist. A whole programme of public lectures, seminars and events is rolling out to feed the demand for more information. Business people, academics and players from both Left and Right are attending, looking for an ethical alternative for our time. So exactly what do its core principles, which include ideas like 'solidarity', 'subsid…
Oct 29, 2012
Labour, the Left and Europe
The crisis in the eurozone means that fundamental changes to the European Union are on the agenda. Conservative politicians have called for a re-appraisal of the UK's relationship with a more integrated and potentially less democratic EU. Yet Labour's leadership is curiously quiet on the topic. Edward Stourton talks to leading figures in Labour's policy debate and finds out what rethinking is going on behind the scenes. Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Oct 22, 2012
The School of Hard Facts
E.D. Hirsch is a little-known American professor whose radical ideas about what should be taught in schools are set to have a profound effect on English schools. A favoured intellectual of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, Hirsch advocates a curriculum strongly grounded in facts and knowledge. He also believes that there are certain specific ideas, works of literature and scientific concepts which everyone should know so that they can be active participants in society. Presenter Fran Abrams interviews Hirsch about his ideas. She considers their likely impact on English schools and speaks to the former English schools minister, Nick Gibb MP, who championed Hirsch's ideas when he was in government. He explains the reasons for bringing Hirsch's ideas across the Atlantic and how they could counteract what he describes as a prevailing left-wing ideology among teachers. Fran also visits London's Pimlico Academy which is pioneering a "Hirsch-style" curriculum in its new primary school.…
Oct 15, 2012
Manuel Castells: Alternative Economic Cultures
Paul Mason interviews renowned sociologist Prof Manuel Castells about the rise of alternative economic cultures since the financial crisis. Recorded in front of an audience at the London School of Economics on Monday 8th October. The financial crisis which has unfolded since 2008 marks more than an economic downturn, according to Prof Castells. The problems which caused the crisis are so deep rooted that they have provoked a profound reassessment of our economic beliefs and institutions. They have also given rise to social movements such as Occupy and alternative economic cultures opposed to financial capitalism. These ideas are explored in "Aftermath: The Cultures of the Economic Crisis", a book edited by Prof Castells. Manuel Castells is Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in Barcelona. He is also University Professor and the Wallis Annenberg Chair Professor of Communication Technology and Socie…
Oct 9, 2012
Keeping the Free Market Faith
The financial crisis has made many on the political right question their faith in free market capitalism. Jamie Whyte is unaffected by such doubts. The financial crisis, he argues, was caused by too much state interference and an unhealthy collusion between government and corporate power. Interviewees include: Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for Skills and co-author of Masters of Nothing. Luigi Zingales, author of Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity and a professor at Chicago Booth School of Business. Producer: Helen Grady.
Oct 1, 2012
Obama: Peacemaker or Vigilante?
When Barack Obama stood before a 200,000-strong crowd in Berlin in 2008 his declaration that "now is the time to build new bridges across the globe" was met with jubilation by a crowd which believed the future American president would pursue a gentler foreign policy, completely unlike that of George W Bush. This liberal enthusiasm extended to the Nobel Committee, which awarded Obama its Peace Prize in his first year of office. The man himself accepted the Prize, and the warm feelings, but did he ever intend to pursue the sort of foreign policy which his well-wishers in Europe and on the American left expected of him? And what - when set against their expectations, or indeed his own promises - has President Obama actually achieved on the world stage? Interviewees include: Bruce Riedel, former adviser on foreign policy to Barack Obama Ann Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department under Barack Obama Daniel Drezner, Professor of International Polit…
Sep 24, 2012
In Britain, the health gap is growing - in the wealthiest parts of the country, people are living on average more than a decade longer than in the poorest parts. An academic discipline which tries to work out why this health gap exists has also grown. It's called social epidemiology. You've probably never heard of it, but the science has influenced governments of both the left and right. So what answers has it thrown up? The most famous comes from the Whitehall II study of civil servants, led by Sir Michael Marmot, which found that people who are in high-pressure jobs, over which they have low control, are at greater risk of heart disease, because of the stress their lowly position causes. The idea that how much control you have over your work and life affects your health has generated talk in policy-making circles about the need to empower people. But the evidence is contested. When economists look at the same data, they see something different. David Aaronovitch hears the argum…
Sep 17, 2012
If you think that you are rational and unprejudiced, Michael Blastland hopes you will be open minded enough to listen to the evidence which suggests that you are probably not. We might think our views about global warming, nanotechnology or the value of IQ tests are based on scientific evidence. But the beliefs we hold about these issues often say more about our ability to screen out the evidence we dislike than it does about the scientific facts. Michael Blastland investigates the causes of our cognitive biases and our remarkable ability to not let the facts get in the way of a deeply held belief. Contributors include: Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia Dan Kahan, Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School Roger Scruton, philosopher. Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Sep 10, 2012
The Philosopher's Arms: Law and Morality
Why obey the law? Is there anything wrong with going through a red light at 3am in the morning if nobody is around? Does the law have any moral force? Questions for this edition of The Philosopher's Arms.
Sep 10, 2012
The Philosopher's Arms: Sorites' Heap
Fuzzy logic and baldness: what's the connection? According to the Sorites' Paradox, it's impossible to go bald. If you lose one hair you don't move from being hirsute to being bald: one hair can't make any difference - and the same must be true if you lose a second hair, then a third... So it seems that nobody can ever go bald. That's the paradox addressed, with the help of some fuzzy logic, in this edition of The Philosopher's Arms.
Sep 3, 2012
The Philosopher’s Arms: The Fake Van Gogh
Imagine a perfect art fake. A fake Van Gogh that is completely indistinguishable from the original. Does that mean it’s of equal value to the original? Find out in this edition of The Philosopher’s Arms.
Aug 27, 2012
The Philosopher’s Arms: Theseus’ Ship
Personal Identity is a topic that’s long intrigued philosophers. What makes you you? What makes you the same person today that you were as a child? The puzzle addressed in The Philosopher’s Arms, with some assistance from the pop group, The Drifters
Aug 8, 2012
The EU Debate
Should Britain stay in the European Union? With the crisis continuing in the eurozone, recent polls suggest that the vast majority of the British electorate would be in favour of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. Evan Davis chairs a debate at the London School of Economics, and is joined by Sir Stephen Wall. The former diplomat and EU adviser to Tony Blair argues his position for Britain to remain in the EU against a panel which wants Britain out.
Jul 9, 2012
China's Battle of Ideas
As China changes leadership, Mukul Devichand probes Beijing's hidden battle of ideas. Unlike the messy democracy of elections in the US or Europe, the Communist Party's "changing of the guard" this autumn is set to be a sombre, orderly and very Chinese affair. But the dramatic sacking of a top Party boss over the alleged murder of an Englishman earlier this year was about more than just a personal power struggle. These events provide a window into a deeper, more ideological battle for the future of the world's new superpower. This week, Mukul Devichand travels to the People's Republic of China for a unique look at the social and ideological faultlines in the country. Radio 4's Analysis programme has a 40-year history of looking at the deeper ideas and trends shaping politics -- and this week's programme takes that approach on the road to a rising superpower whose policy debates are largely misunderstood in the West, despite the profound implications of China's future direction for our…
Jul 2, 2012
The Gold Standard
As banks collapse and governments run out of money, the popular solution is to print more and more and expand bank balance sheets. But is there another way of fixing our economy? Would the financial system be more stable if each pound in our pocket was backed by gold? The Today programme's business presenter Simon Jack meets the so-called 'gold bugs' who predict the collapse of the paper system as well as those who argue that a return to the gold standard would be a huge mistake. Which makes more sense - placing your faith in a yellow metal or in money created at the push of a button? Interviewees include ... Detlev Schichter: fellow at the free market think tank the Cobden Centre and author of the book Paper Money Collapse: The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown John Butler: Chief investment officer at Amphora (an independent investment and advisory firm in London) and author of The Golden Revolution: How to prepare for the coming global gold standard Lord Ski…
Jun 25, 2012
As the crisis in the Eurozone continues, Chris Bowlby examines what might eventually emerge and what that could mean for us. When Analysis looked at the possibility of a Greek exit from the Euro back in February, the topic was regarded as "thinking the unthinkable". Not so now. In this programme Chris Bowlby looks forward and asks if the Eurozone is headed for disintegration or, conversely, even closer political and economic union. What do either of those scenarios mean in practice and can the Eurozone survive? What are the implications for borders, cash movements and who controls the levers of power? Interviewees include: Lord Peter Mandelson, David Marsh, Ulrike Guerot, Dani Rodrik, Paul Donovan, Brian Lucey and Aristotle Kallis. Producer: John Murphy.
Jun 18, 2012
Cameron's Swede Dreams
What's so great about Sweden? The British left has long been obsessed with Sweden. Now the Conservatives are too. Little wonder: the country always tops the global charts for happiness and social cohesion; its economy is dynamic and its deficit is low. In this week's Analysis, Jo Fidgen investigates the "Swedish model" and the British obsession with it. She finds the country is more conservative than people think, with its centre-right government's generous welfare state depending on very traditional notions of trust and social cohesion. At the root of Swedish conservativism is what the experts call a "Swedish theory of love" - in which the state is seen as the defender of the individual. Could this idea ever work for Britain? Sweden has provided a blue-print for David Cameron's Conservatives and their "Big Society" reforms, but many in Sweden argue that they are being misunderstood by Britain's Tories. Jo also looks at how, as Sweden struggles to become more multicultural, the "Swedi…
Jun 11, 2012
Many young school leavers have struggled to find work for years. Now the economic crisis has made things worse. Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies investigates the roots of the problem. He discusses the challenge faced by those - particularly boys - who dislike classroom learning, and the often chaotic transition from school to the world beyond. And he hears about the key importance of work experience at the earliest stage to enable young people to acquire the skills and attitudes employers want. But how much can be changed as employers hold onto their older workers during the downturn, leaving youngsters even further behind? Interviewees include the youth unemployment and vocational education specialists Alison Wolf and Paul Gregg, employers and specialist trainers in Wiltshire, and the new Scottish minister for youth employment. Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Jun 4, 2012
Steve Keen: Why Economics is Bunk
Newsnight Economics Editor Paul Mason interviews the controversial economist Steve Keen before an audience at the London School of Economics. Prof Keen was one of a small number of economists who predicted there would be a major financial crisis before the 2008 crash. He argues that if we keep the "parasitic banking sector" alive then the economy will die, and says that conventional economics provides an unwitting cover for "the greatest ponzi schemes in history". Producer: Kavita Puri.
May 28, 2012
Middle East: Too Soon for Democracy?
Edward Stourton explores the prospects for post-revolution government, following the Arab Spring. Elections are being held, but can voters be sure autocratic rule is in the past? Contributors, in order of appearance: Aref Ali Nayed, Islamic theologian and Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Khaled Fahmy, professor of history at the American University in Cairo. Marina Ottaway, senior associate of the Middle East programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Fawaz Gerges, Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics. Timur Kuran, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. Eugene Rogan, lecturer in the modern history of the Middle East and fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. The Right Hon. Sir Paddy Ashdown, former UN High Representative to Bosnia. Khalifa Shakreen, lecturer in the Economics and Political Science department at Tripoli University. (Producer: Ruth Alexander).
Mar 26, 2012
What Is Money?
We dream about it, argue about it, worry about it, celebrate it, spend it, save it, we transfer it from one emotion to another. But what exactly is money? And why do we trust it? Frances Stonor Saunders takes a journey through some of the fundamentals of money. During her journey she dips her toe into the world of quantitative easing. How is that money invented? Is it as real as the pieces of paper in our wallets? And she explores some of the reasons for the calls to return to a gold standard. Essentially, she tries to gain a better understanding of what this stuff which we call money is really about; how and why do we maintain our faith in it, or has it just become too complicated?
Mar 19, 2012
War Gaming Iran
Could a hot war with Iran be about to start? Israel could strike against Iran's nuclear facilities; Syria is in revolt; the world is on edge. Edward Stourton probes the West's options.
Mar 12, 2012
Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Downing Street Guru
Janan Ganesh of The Economist speaks to Downing Street's favourite intellectual, Nassim Nicolas Taleb - author of the best selling book The Black Swan - to investigate his political appeal. Producer: Mukul Devichand
Mar 5, 2012
Why Labour thinkers believe German society should be the model for Britain's centre left. Matthew Taylor, a former policy adviser to Tony Blair, presents.
Feb 27, 2012
America: The Right Way
Justin Webb explores what the primaries reveal about the state of the right in the US. Is the Republican party really split? We explore how the party has shifted to the right, and the reasons for it. The role of the Tea party within the conservative movement, and the effect it's having on the primary race. We look at what ideas the American right offers in the post financial crisis world -that might enthuse Americans and perhaps the rest of us too. And ask is the party ready to lead again. Contributors: Henry Olsen, Vice President, American Enterprise Institute Professor Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University Michael Lind, New America Foundation and Author of "Land of Promise:an Economic History of the United States" Michael Kibbe, President Freedom Works Thomas Frank, Author, "Pity the Billionaire" Jay Cost, Columnist, Weekly Standard.
Feb 20, 2012
Profits Before Pay
It may come as no great surprise that many of us have experienced a wage squeeze, while the cost of living has gone the other way, since the financial crisis of 2008. However, as Duncan Weldon, a senior economist at the Trades Union Congress, points out, wages for most people in the UK began stagnating years before the crisis. We tend to think of the early 2000s as a time of relative wealth: house prices were rising, credit flowed easily, the government introduced a generous tax credit scheme and people generally felt better off. But Duncan Weldon argues these masked the reality of what was going on. Work done by the think tank The Resolution Foundation, which focuses on those on low and modest incomes, shows that there was almost no wage growth in the middle and below during the five years leading up to 2008 and yet the economy grew by 11% in that period. Others also point out that the share of the national income which goes into wages, as opposed to profits, has been decreasing sin…
Feb 13, 2012
Preparing for Eurogeddon
Europe thinks the unthinkable - what happens if the Eurozone splits. What would happen to the banking sector, how would a new currency be put in place, can contagion be halted, and more fundamentally could the Euro survive? Policymakers across Europe are putting their contingency plans together. We reveal what some of the preparations may be. Reporter Chris Bowlby runs through some of the scenarios of what may happen if a country were to withdraw, and crucially what would happen next. Contributors: Dawn Holland, National Institute of Economic and Social Research; Aristotle Kallis, Political Scientist; David Marsh, author "The History of the Euro"; David Lascelles, senior fellow of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation; Mark Crickett De La Rue; and Larry Hatheway, UBS Producer: Kavita Puri.
Feb 6, 2012
Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi
Should the world fear the rise of political Islam in the newly democratic Middle East? The Arab Spring has thrust the ideas and ideology of one man into the centre of this crucial question. Before the revolutions began, Sheikh Rachid Gannouchi lived in Hemel Hempstead and was one of the world's leading Islamist ideologues, urging the Muslim Brotherhood to accommodate modate the ideas of secularism, democracy and acceptance of equal political rights for non-Muslims. But after the region begun to rise up against dictators, he has become even more powerful and his ideas have been tested as never before. He returned to his native Tunisia in 2011 and is now spiritual leader of Tunisia's largest political party, but his influence extends far beyond North Africa. As the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological brethren try and find a place in a democratic world, his controversial ideas have won acolytes in the Arab World, Turkey and South East Asia. For Analysis, the BBC Radio 4 series that pr…
Jan 30, 2012
Do Schools Make a Difference?
The government's brought in new style league tables to help parents choose schools. But do we really know what makes a good school? And how far can schools really transform lives? Researchers have long believed in a so-called 'school effect' that counters, at least in part, factors such as social and family background. But how easy is it to measure this kind of effect, and can parents really be given a clear guide as to which school is best for their child? Or has too much emphasis on factors such as social background made schools complacent about what they can achieve? Fran Abrams talks to head teachers, educational experts, the schools minister and the new head of Ofsted as she investigates what difference schools can really make.
Jan 23, 2012
Capitalists Against the Super Rich
Are the champions of the capitalist system now turning against the super-rich? And if they are, what will they now do about it? In this week's Analysis, we meet leading figures of the centre right who suddenly seem to have something in common with the political left: a moral aversion to the an era of high finance that saw huge payouts to a few, and bailouts funded by the rest. Prime Minster David Cameron opened 2011 with a speech criticising a system where "a few at the top get rewards that seem to have nothing to do with the risks they take or the effort they put in." He promises change, but how can that be achieved without undermining the logic of capitalism? Edward Stourton meets influential defenders of market forces who say they can keep the best of free trade but exclude the undeserving rich. Interviewees: Jesse Norman MP Matthew Hancock MP Nadhim Zahawi MP Charles Moore, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator Donald Winch, Emeritus Pro…
Dec 19, 2011
Certainty: is the lust for it a sin? And if so, should politics fear for its soul? Michael Blastland makes a plea for policy makers to be less sure of themselves in "Dead Cert", originally broadcast on 6 November 2008. We hope you enjoy this programme - which we offer you while Analysis is off air.
Nov 28, 2011
A Price Worth Paying?
Banks are underwritten by the government in Britain. But should the taxpayer bail out so-called casino banks? In a programme previously broadcast on 1 February 2010 - Edward Stourton talks to the growing band of experts who believe that risk-taking investment banks should be forced to face the consequences of their losses. We hope you enjoy this programme - which we offer you while Analysis is off air.
Nov 14, 2011
Robert H. Frank: The Darwin Economy
In 100 years time, Charles Darwin will be viewed as a better economist than Adam Smith, according to economics professor Robert H. Frank. In his new book 'The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good', Frank argues that whilst Smith was correct to point out the benefits of competition, Darwin went further by showing how some times competition over rank could produce benefits to the individual at the expense of the group. This insight, believes Frank, applies to the economics of human societies as much as it does to the animal kingdom. Recorded at The London School of Economics, Prof Frank explains his ideas to Paul Mason and an audience of economists and scientists, as well as the free marketeers he criticises. Robert H. Frank is an economics professor at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management and a regular Economic View columnist for the New York Times, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos. His books, which have been translated into 22 languages, inc…
Nov 7, 2011
Do Leaders Make a Difference?
Do Leaders make a Difference? We talk much of personal leadership being the key to change in, say, politics or business. But how much can such figures really influence events? Do we overattribute power to individuals such as a prime minister or a media mogul? Have we lost sight of the overall importance of collective action and attitudes, or the trends and events that no individual can resist? Michael Blastland investigates. Producer: Chris Bowlby Editor: Innes Bowen Contributors: Nick Chater Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School Professor Pat Thane Historian at King's College London Chris Dillow Writer on economics and psychology Angela Knight Chief Executive of the British Bankers' Association Tristram Hunt Historian and Labour MP Jerker Denrell Professor of strategy and decision making at Oxford University's Saïd Business School Lord Baker Former Conservative Home Secretary Andrew Roberts Historical and biographical writer.
Oct 31, 2011
A New Black Politics?
The 2010 general election saw the largest influx of black and minority ethnic MPs to the Commons that Britain has ever seen. There are currently 27 sitting on the Conservative and Labour benches - up from 14 in the last Parliament. But are we starting to see a 'new black politics'? Some suggest that the radical left-wing politics of the 1980s is no longer relevant in twenty-first century Britain, where there is a growing black middle class, a multitude of different black communities, and where black people are represented at the highest levels. David Goodhart meets the black politicians adopting a more socially conservative standpoint to their predecessors and also talks to their critics: those who say that some of the country's most vulnerable people have been forgotten by the establishment; that institutionalised racism still exists; and that many of today's politicians do not represent the people they are meant to serve. Interviewees include: David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham…
Oct 24, 2011
Frances Stonor Saunders looks at the role of cultural diplomacy in spreading liberal British values around the world. The British Council and the BBC World Service, both part-funded by the Foreign Office, are the two most important institutions of British cultural diplomacy. The British Council organises exhibitions and events at its offices around the world with artists such as Grayson Perry. He feels that the fact his work deals with controversial themes is part of his attraction for the cultural diplomats keen to convey the values of liberalism by saying, "Look what we put up with in our country: a cross-dressing potter who's talking about the evils of advertising." The BBC World Service is editorially independent but is funded by the Foreign Office. Frances Stonor Saunders explores the tension between the fact that cultural diplomacy has an official purpose yet the endeavours it seeks to promote need to maintain freedom and independence as a mark of a liberal society. Contribu…
Oct 17, 2011
As opinion polls reveal that half the British population would vote in favour of withdrawal from the European Union, it seems the political class is catching up with public opinion when it comes to the EU. While perhaps just dozens of MPs are publicly calling for a referendum on the UK's EU membership, behind closed doors there are many more closet secessionists: at least 40 per cent of Conservative MPs according to one party insider. "In public I call for renegotiation of the Lisbon treaty. In private I argue for complete withdrawal from the European Union. And there are plenty of others like me," says one anonymous sceptic. Edward Stourton asks whether the crisis in the eurozone has emboldened more politicians to speak frankly on their attitudes towards EU membership and talks to supporters of withdrawal from both the left and right wings of British politics. Producer: Hannah Barnes.
Oct 10, 2011
Owen Bennett Jones looks at the Shia movement Hezbollah which has a big following in Lebanon but is regarded by some in the West as a terrorist organisation. It has a militia with more weapons than many European armies and wants Islamic rule but is in government with Christian allies. The British government draws a distinction between Hezbollah's military and political wings whereas the Americans do not. The French government would like to see Hezbollah disarm but do not regard them as terrorists. How the West sees the organisation and how it sees itself is central to stability in the Middle East but what exactly is Hezbollah and is it heading for another war with Israel?
Oct 3, 2011
Aid or Immigration?
Despite a general policy of austerity and cut backs, the budget for development aid has been ring fenced by the coalition government. Frances Cairncross asks whether a more relaxed immigration policy might be a better way for the UK to help the developing world. The official aid budget is dwarfed by a private form of help for the developing world: remittances sent home by immigrants working in richer countries. So should governments keen to help the developing world encourage migration and remittances as a replacement for state-funded aid? "They have the key advantage that the people who send them know the people who are supposed to be receiving them... There's less opportunity for corruption and for waste... and they might have lower overhead costs," argues Owen Barder of the Center for Global Development. Frances Cairncross, rector of Exeter College, Oxford and former managing editor of The Economist, explores the limits of this free market alternative to state-funded development…
Sep 26, 2011
Libya's Islamic Capitalists
Under Colonel Gaddafi, Libya was subject to the dictator's so-called Third Universal Theory. Hugh Miles asks what sort of ideology is likely to dominate in post-Gaddafi Libya. Western media have been keeping a close eye on Libya's governing National Transitional Council, and there have been warnings about splits between Islamists and secularists, and about Libya's tribal society. But, as Hugh Miles discovers, amongst Libya's new ruling class there is broad consensus about support for one ideology: capitalism. Gaddafi's idiosyncratic economic and political philosophy fused elements of socialism and Islam. The suppression of free markets was at times taken to bizarre extremes with, at one point, the banning of the entire retail sector. Support for capitalism is perhaps a reaction to the years in which entrepreneurship was suppressed. Hugh Miles looks at the background of the new rulers and asks how Libyan Islamic capitalism might work.
Sep 19, 2011
This summer's riots provoked much speculation about the factors which prompted so many people to break the law. But philosopher-turned-commentator Jamie Whyte is more interested in understanding why this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. Is it fear of arrest or is it morality that makes most of the people abide by the law for most of the time? In search of the causes of mass civil obedience, Jamie Whyte speaks to leading experts in the fields of philosophy, psychology and anthropology. Contributors include: Roger Scruton, philosopher and writer Quentin Skinner, professor of the humanities & expert on modern political thought Tim Harford, the Financial Times Undercover Economist and presenter of More or Less on Radio 4 George Klosko, political philosopher Alex Bentley, anthropologist Carol Hedderman, criminologist Producer: Simon Coates.
Jul 11, 2011
Unsure about Sure Start
Sure Start was one of the flagship policies of the Labour years, and the Coalition Government has just underlined its commitment to keeping it going. But in this edition of Analysis Fran Abrams asks a question. To many, it's a seriously heretical one: is Sure Start worth saving? Twelve years and £10 billion since it began, some are still struggling to describe what Sure Start has achieved for children.
Jul 4, 2011
The SNP and Scotland
No university tuition fees, free personal care for the elderly, reduced prescription charges. In all sorts of ways, Scotland seems to have kept a level of public service the rest of the UK is denied. How has this happened, and can Scotland continue to enjoy this as overall UK spending is cut? Will English resentment grow if Scotland is seen to be enjoying an unfair advantage? Or can the SNP persuade Scots that their economic vision will deliver a public service paradise? And how will all this flow into the increasingly urgent debate about Scotland's constitutional future after the SNP's recent electoral success? Instead of all the theoretical debate about Scottish independence, Anne McElvoy discovers the hard bargaining already underway about who gets the best UK deal, and who pays for it - a deal that will be crucial in deciding whether the UK will survive. Presenter: Anne McElvoy Producer: Chris Bowlby.
Jun 28, 2011
Is America Doomed?
Justin Webb, the BBC's former North America Editor, regards the United States with affection and respect. But he is worried that America is in denial about the extent of its financial problems and therefore incapable of dealing with the gravest crisis the country has ever faced. A decade of tax cuts and increased public spending took the United States from an era of budget surpluses to one of growing deficits. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that federal debt could reach 90 per cent of GDP within a decade. The nation's partisan political culture, argue some, means its leaders are incapable of taking the necessary action to avert financial disaster and a loss of international influence. Justin Webb examines the consequences of failing to deal with the growing debt and looks for any signs that the United States might start to tackle its problems before it is too late. Interviewees include Diane Coyle, David Frum, Richard Haass, Jeffrey Sachs and Anne Applebaum. Producer: Bil…
Jun 20, 2011
Hague's Middle East
"The eruption of democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa is, even in its early stages, the most important development of the early 21st century." These were the words of Foreign Secretary William Hague May 2011. Events from Cairo to Benghazi have shaken the very foundations of the Middle East, and with it the West's longstanding friendships with Arab dictators. But what will happen next? In this week's Analysis, Edward Stourton meets Foreign Secretary Hague and explores the map of the new Middle East as seen from London, Washington and Brussels. Amid the talk of massive economic investment, customs unions, and a newfound support for democratic transition, what will really change in terms of Western relations with the Middle East? The "Arab Spring" came just as the world began to recover from the 2008 crash -- with oil prices already high. Edward looks at how the economic pressures will shape our policy, and explores divisions within the EU -- with some nations afr…
Jun 13, 2011
Egypt's New Islamists
Edward Stourton asks if the Egyptian revolution spells the end of old-style Islamism. As groups like the Muslim Brotherhood embrace democracy, how will they - and Egypt - change? The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak has been described as the Middle East's first "post-Islamic" revolution: there were no religious slogans or chanting in Tahrir Square and the protestors we saw on television were largely young, seemingly secular liberals. But Islam is likely to play a major role in the development of post-revolution Egypt, with the Muslim Brotherhood the biggest and best organised political force in the country. Edward Stourton asks what kind of society Egypt's Islamists want to create and explores how they are changing as they form political parties and prepare to contest their first fully democratic elections.
Jun 6, 2011
Goodbye the Golden Eggs of Banking?
Time was when the City of London and the financial services industry generally were the apple of most politicians' eyes. The fabulous wealth they generated and taxes they paid seemed to set Britain on the road to lasting prosperity without having to worry about its manufacturing sector. With the crash, the political consensus has turned. Now, metal-bashing is back in favour and the bankers can do no right. The ritual call, heard at least once a generation, for Britain's economy to be more like Germany's is echoing across the land again. But is making things rather than financial innovation really the way to make Britain's economy grow faster? When we have a competitive edge in banking and managing money, should we cast it aside? And why should Britain's economy be the same as that of other countries? Janan Ganesh of the "Economist" asks if we should be turning our back on the goose that has laid our golden eggs for so many years. And, with no immediate signs that manufacturing is tak…
May 30, 2011
Is our NHS debate avoiding the key issue? The talk is of another reorganisation of the NHS and greater efficiencies enabling the NHS in England to face the future. But the overall challenge goes much deeper, and the politicians dare not address it. As well as the pressures of demography and inflation in health care costs, the health service faces what it has always faced - public expectation of ever better health care means an ever greater proportion of our national wealth has been spent on health. Now it is said that this must simply stop. But does this hope - one in a long history of so far unrealised hopes -simply obscure the more painful reality. One way or another, privately or publicly, our health care ambitions have to be paid for, and we are failing to decide how. In 'Unhealthy Expectations' Michael Blastland looks at how this problem has loomed for years but never been faced - at least not in open political debate. He explores what the real choices are if constantly improved…
Mar 21, 2011
Labour's traditional working class supporters are abandoning the party in their droves. But can Labour win them back without alienating the middle-class voters it needs to win the next election? David Goodhart explores the tensions between two traditions in the Labour movement - a liberal wing focussed on equality and diversity and a conservative strand that is more concerned with issues of solidarity and community. And he examines the new Blue Labour school of thought, which believes that the best way to unite the two traditions is to rethink the Big State approach that became a defining element of the post-war Labour Party's identity.
Mar 14, 2011
The prime minister has proposed a new 'muscular liberalism', aimed at better integrating Britain's Muslims. It aims to counter the alienation that has led to a few young British Muslim men being prepared to mount terrorist attacks. David Walker asks what the new policy will mean on the ground, and how easily it can be reconciled with government plans for more local diversity and faith schools.
Mar 7, 2011
Testing the Emotions
Investigative journalist and author Fran Abrams looks at a popular but controversial programme designed to teach children emotional and social skills in schools. The concept of emotional intelligence has almost become a global ideology. It's taught, in one form or another, in around 70% of secondary and 90% of primary schools in England and is popular in Scotland and Wales too. But what exactly is emotional intelligence, can it really be developed and how sound are its scientific claims? With contributions from: Dave Read Workshop leader Professor Roger Weissberg President of CASEL Professor Katherine Weare Southampton University Pupils Bournemouth Park School Professor Richard Layard Labour peer Angela Hutchison Head, Bournemouth Park School Professor Neil Humphrey Manchester University.
Feb 28, 2011
Rethinking the Middle East
The autocratic regimes of North Africa & the Middle East enjoyed many years of military, political and financial support from the United States government. Dr Maha Azzam looks at the recent history of US involvement in the region, including the brief shift in policy during the presidency of George W Bush, and the role that Israel plays in US/Arab relations. As violence & unrest spread throughout the region, will US policy vary state-by-state depending on its own interests or will President Barack Obama embrace the pro-democracy protests wherever they emerge? What expectations do the protestors have of American support and what levers can the US pull in order to assist them? And if it is seen to falter in its support for the protestors will this seriously undermine US influence in the long-term? Dr Maha Azzam is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House. Contributors Dr Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institute, Qatar Shashank Joshi, Royal United Services Institute, London Elliott Abrams, Council o…
Feb 21, 2011
The Orange Book: Clegg's Political Lemon?
The Orange Book, published in 2004, is a collection of political essays by leading Liberal Democrats. Although the writers come from a range of viewpoints, the book has been seen as an attempt by party right wingers to reclaim the party's economic liberal origins in the nineteenth century and give it a new modern emphasis. But for some leading Liberal Democrats these ideas are now closer to tenets of Conservative thought. So will the Orange Bookers bind the coalition ever closer together or lead to fractures and even splits in Liberal Democrat ranks? Edward Stourton talks to one of the leading Orange Book Liberal Democrats, David Laws MP, about the philosophy behind the book and why they were so keen to publish it. He discusses the consequences for the party of the gap which has now emerged between public perceptions of where the party stands on major issues and where its leadership's inclinations lie. And he discusses what the longer-term implications of the Orange Bookers' relations…
Feb 14, 2011
The Big Society
The "big society" - the idea that volunteers should take over some of the functions of the state - is the most over-used policy phrase of the moment. But how will the theory work in practice? Chris Bowlby looks at the big society on the ground in Oxford - from the affluent streets of the City's North to the deprived estates of Blackbird Leys - and tries to figure out the consequences of expecting communities to do more for themselves.
Feb 7, 2011
Radical Economics: Escaping Credit Serfdom
The role of credit in the build up to the global financial crisis is well known - but what has our reliance on credit been doing to the wider economy and to human behaviour? The expansion of consumer credit has been encouraged by social democratic as well as centre right governments. But some on the left believe that the growth of the financial sector has given birth to a novel form of capitalism and with that a new kind of worker exploitation. Paul Mason meets the economists of "financialisation" who believe that credit has become the defining relationship between workers and employers, citizens and public services. Paul Mason is Economics Editor of Newsnight and the author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed.
Jan 31, 2011
Radical Economics: Yo Hayek!
Was the economic crisis caused by fundamental problems with the system rather than a mere failure of policy? Over two weeks, Analysis investigates two schools of economics with radical solutions. This week, Jamie Whyte looks at the free market Austrian School of FA Hayek. The global recession has revived interest in this area of economics, even inspiring an educational rap video. "Austrian" economists believe that the banking crisis was caused by too much regulation rather than too little. The fact that interest rates are set by central banks rather than the market is at the heart of the problem, they argue. Artificially low interest rates sent out the wrong signals to investors, causing them to borrow to spend on "malinvestments", such as overpriced housing. Jamie Whyte is head of research and publishing at Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm. He is a former lecturer in philosophy at Cambridge University and the author of Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking. Contributo…
Jan 24, 2011
Trust was the subject of moral philosopher Professor Onora O'Neill's acclaimed Reith Lectures in 2002. Enron, political sleaze, the foot and mouth crisis, the Bristol heart babies scandal and the collapse of Equitable Life had contributed to a perception - challenged by Professor O'Neill - that we were living through a crisis of trust in our institutions. Eight years on, the subject is no less topical and so Professor O'Neill returns to Radio 4 to be interviewed about her latest reflections on trust by Edward Stourton. The intervening years have seen no let-up in the stream of highly publicised political scandals, financial crises and blunders by state officials. Yet levels of trust have remained remarkably consistent. Furthermore, argues Professor O'Neill, the public debate about building trust misses the point: we should be more concerned about levels of trustworthiness rather than levels of trust in society. Attempts to restore trust in certain professions or organisations do litt…
Nov 15, 2010
The Deserving and the Undeserving Poor
Presenter Chris Bowlby asks whether a state welfare system can ever distinguish between those who deserve help and those who do not. As the recession bites and public spending cuts loom there have been calls, on both sides of the political debate, for a re-moralisation of welfare. Some say that the entitlement culture has gone too far, others that the hard-working poor should not be footing the bill for those who choose not to take a job. When did the language change and what does a change in vocabulary really mean? And even if desirable can distinctions between welfare recipients be made in practice? If there are time limits on the receipt of welfare will more people end up better-off in work or worse-off unable to work? Analysis will look at what history can teach us about making moral distinctions between the poor - both when the economy is booming & when it's contracting. And what of those, such as the children of welfare recipients, caught up in the debate : can it ever right t…
Nov 8, 2010
Criminal rehabilitation: a sub-prime investment?
Ken Clarke has promised a "rehabilitation revolution" in which private investors will fund projects aimed at cutting the re-offending rate. If the projects succeed, the government will pay those investors a return. But if the projects fail, the investors will lose their shirts. You can see why the idea is attractive to ministers. In a period of spending restraint - and with a huge and hugely expensive prison population - a 'payment by results' system promises to fund rehabilitation projects from future savings. But will it work? After all, rehabilitation is hardly a new idea. And so far, it seems, most attempts have made little difference. So the question is whether a new way of paying for criminal rehabilitation might deliver better results. There's unrestrained excitement among some of those working with offenders. And deep scepticism among some criminologists. Emma Jane Kirby investigates. Interviewees include: the Justice Secretary, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP; criminologists…
Nov 1, 2010
Defence: no stomach for the fight?
To take successful military action, you do not only need soldiers, aircraft or warships. The support of the society and political leadership is crucial in sustaining armed action. Yet public involvement in current debates about the future of the military has been very limited, as old ideas of 'leaving it to the professionals' prevail. So what happens when society becomes divorced from the business of defending itself? In liberal Britain, some sections of society seem more and more alienated from military action. Using force clashes with modern concerns about human rights and risk-avoidance. New forms of media have cut through the more sanitised portrayal of war in the mainstream media, adding to public concern. And politicians, scarred by the unpopularity of recent military actions, noting the grief which every single casualty prompts, are likely to be ever more wary of future warfare. Within the military too there is change, and friction. New technology is taking armed action furthe…
Oct 25, 2010
The secret history of Analysis
Analysis celebrates its 40th birthday by making its own history the subject of its trademark examination of the facts. The Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently told the New Statesman that in decades past the organisation's current affairs output had displayed a left wing bias. He could not have had in mind the early years of Analysis. "We tried to avoid received opinion like the plague," says the programme's founder editor George Fischer. He required his producers to look at issues from scratch and to go beyond the bien pensant agenda. In doing so they spotted issues that others missed. Amongst the themes they identified as important were the depth of the Thatcherite project before the term Thatcherism was coined; the tensions likely to emerge in the feminist movement; and the potential for disaster in Zimbabwe if expectations over land reform were not fulfilled. The programme's willingness to question fashionable assumptions attracted some accusations of political bi…
Oct 18, 2010
Turkey: Staying Secular Insha'Allah
Turkey's increased economic and political importance makes it a place which outsiders need to understand. Since 2002, the nation has been governed by the AKP, a political party with Islamist roots. The AKP's time in power has coincided with improvements in Turkey's economic management, the rise of its international influence and a dramatic decline amongst its citizens of support for sharia law. Outsiders tend to see Turkey as wrestling with a choice between Islamism and secularism. However the nation seems able to live with - even prosper under - the apparent contradiction of a government with Islamist origins and a secular constitution. Edward Stourton attempts to unravel the complicated reality of Turkish politics and get beyond the usual Western obsession with whether Turkey's loyalties lie with the West or the Islamic world. He investigates the new elites that are shaping the country's future. Will they help Turkey fulfil its dream of becoming a global power and the West's dream…
Oct 11, 2010
The Spirit Level: the theory of everything?
The Spirit Level is a book that aims to change the way you see the world. It has impressed politicians on both sides of politics, with David Cameron and Ed Milliband taking note of its message. Packed with scattergrams and statistics, the book argues for more equal societies. The authors, epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, make the case that countries with higher income inequality tend to have more health and social problems. Equality, they say, is better for everyone. But The Spirit Level has been accused of imbalance itself. Critics from the right have launched a scathing attack, saying the books methods and arguments are flawed. So who is correct? Mukul Devichand examines the evidence. He speaks to: Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of The Spirit Level; Professor Peter Saunders, author of Beware False Prophets; Professor John Goldthorpe of Nuffield College, Oxford; Professor George Kaplan of Michigan University; Professor Angela Clow, of t…
Oct 4, 2010
Whatever Happened to the Sisterhood?
Women will be hit disproportionately by the Budget cuts already announced by the government: A new study suggests that they will shoulder nearly three quarters of the burden, because they rely more on the state for benefits and are more likely to work in the public sector than men. The state has reduced women's dependency on men, only to install itself as the new patriarch. If the state shrinks, it will be women who will feel the difference Is this what generations of feminists have fought for? Where is the sisterhood now, marching on the treasury? Jo Fidgen goes in search of modern feminism in the rubble of the economy and asks whether being a woman is no longer a political state.
Sep 27, 2010
The Big Society
Bigging It Up The Coalition claims its Big Society is more than a slogan and its ideas are shaping key policies. Anne McElvoy investigates the little-known genesis of David Cameron's big idea and examines what its roots reveal about how the government will go about doing less - and ensuring society does more. Presenter Anne McElvoy Producer Simon Coates Editor Innes Bowen.
Sep 20, 2010
What's Wrong with Child Labour?
What is childhood for? It is commonly seen as a time for play and learning, but should employment play a more important part? Fran Abrams examines the subject of children at work in the UK, and asks why it is a phenomenon so little talked about. She traces the history of child labour in this country, and explores modern-day notions of the 'priceless child' who ought to be immersed in education and shielded from harsh economic reality. In protecting our children, she asks, are we causing them harm? And might the youth of Britain benefit from a revival of child labour?
Feb 8, 2010
In the past decade, Britain has experienced mass immigration on an unprecedented scale. A former government aide recently suggested this was a deliberate policy, motivated in part by a desire to increase racial diversity. David Goodhart investigates the ideological forces behind one of the most significant social changes to have affected the UK. Andrew Neather, a former Number 10 speechwriter, recently wrote a much-discussed article in the Evening Standard in praise of multicultural London, but suggesting that those who have influenced immigration policy under Labour were politically-programmed to be relaxed about such numbers. His article was immediately seized upon by anti-immigration campaigners as evidence of a conspiracy to make Britain a more racially diverse society. In this programme, David Goodhart investigates the truth about reasons for recent increases in migration to Britain. Political insiders, including former home secretary David Blunkett, talk candidly about the rea…
Nov 16, 2009
What would happen if Britain chose to leave the European Union? The new Lisbon Treaty contains a clause whch sets out the exit process for the first time. But, as Chris Bowlby reports, the final deal between Britain and its former EU partners would depend a lot on the mood of their 'divorce' - amicable or acrimonious.
Jun 22, 2009
Are Politicians Out of Touch?
Michael Blastland asks if 'group-think' is distancing policy from the public and asks if our political elite have forgotten how most voters live. People measure their behaviour and beliefs by those around them, so MPs might have thought that the expenses system was reasonable. Might it also mean they have lost touch with what Britain is really like?
Feb 21, 2008
Jackanory Politics: Frances Stonor examines the increasingly popular method of delivering a political message by telling a story.